Did you know that worldwide “pumped storage hydropower” makes up the vast majority of all installed grid-scale energy storage capacity? This technology is ideally positioned to support the integration of intermittent renewables (wind and solar) into the electric grid, which is growing exponentially worldwide.
Pumped-storage hydropower is a type of energy storage used by many electrical utilities here in the U.S. as well as around the world. It is primarily used by the Grid Operator for load balancing during off-demand hours and then as an excellent source of power when demands exceed online sources.
The energy is stored in the form of potential energy – water pumped from a low elevation water source to a higher elevation reservoir. Although pumping the water to the higher elevation reservoir results in the pump storage facility being a consumer of energy, this is normally done during periods of off-peak or low demand intervals, when electric prices are low or to help balance the grid system load. Whenever additional electric power is needed, especially during periods of high electrical demand, the stored water is released from the reservoir and flows via gravity through turbines to produce electric power. This result is an almost instantaneous source of electric power, at a time when electricity prices are higher. Therefore, it is considered a net gain in revenue for the utility, or at worst, helps the utility provide a reliable source of power to its customers, or helps the grid operators balance their system load.
During periods of significant rainfall, the plant can be a net energy producer in the manner of a traditional hydroelectric plant.
But pumped storage facilities are complex, and they require the right mix of skills and experience to complete and maintain them for the future. Pumped storage services begin with site reconnaissance and conceptual design, due diligence, and economic and feasibility studies; including environmental and regulatory support, detailed engineering and design, economic modeling, procurement, and construction management services; and continue with ongoing operations support.
So, when you consider “pumped storage hydropower” – think about where it is headed in the future? How will it be affected by the growth in installation of battery storage facilities? How can you overcome obstacles – such as high capital costs and long development schedules – to keep the technology active and relevant?
The engineering professionals, at GTTSi, many with over 20 years of experience in their disciplines, can assist you with modernization, rehabilitation, or expansion of your existing pumped storage projects, as well as assist with the design and offer operational support.