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Jonathan Ford

Power Storage Is the Next Big Net Zero Challenge

Britain’s pioneering plans for renewable energy show the global need could be massive. The means don’t yet exist.

Dinorwig’s liquid power is a drop in the bucket.

Dinorwig’s liquid power is a drop in the bucket.

Photographer:  Will Wintercross/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Up a valley in North Wales, past the village of Llanberis, stands a cluster of stone buildings beside a long disused slate quarry. The mountains stretch away, and sheep graze on the hillsides. Aside from a dam-like concrete pier jutting into a lake below some old mine workings, nothing suggests you are next to one of Britain’s largest power plants.

Concealed within a nearby mountain is a cathedral-scale hydroelectric operation connecting a lake on the summit with the valley before you. Six enormous concrete inlets, bored through the rock, drop 600 meters to turbines capable of generating 1,800 megawatts of power. That’s around 5% of Britain’s average daily level of demand.