Pumped Hydro Storage
July 18, 2023
Harnessing the power of pumped hydro storage: Energy storage at its best
The century-old technology of pumped hydro storage (PHS) could be the key to unlocking America’s renewable energy future. New designs in PHS facilities regarding installed capacity and storage volume make them the most mature storage concept.

The opportunities for PHS have mostly lied in mountainous regions in Switzerland, Austria, Germany, Spain, the United States, China, India, and Portugal. According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), PSH offers 42% of the global expansion of electricity storage capacity.

Pumped-storage hydropower has built an upper hand in terms of cost-effectiveness, especially for very large capacity storage rather than battery storage. The Electric Power Research Institute stated that the installed cost for PHS varies between USD 1,700 and USD 5,000/kW, compared to USD 2,500/kW to 3,900/kW for lithium-ion batteries.

Modified PHS, such as hydraulic gravity storages and underfloor PHS systems, are currently under development and observe the potential for large commercialization. Due to their versatility, large-scale storage abilities, and grid operations advantages, PHS systems will allow utilities to efficiently balance the grid and expand their renewable energy portfolios better.

With various advanced existing and innovative PSH technologies ready for deployment as closed-loop power systems, PSH is emerging as the backbone that sustains the transition to carbon-free electricity generation to offer clean power to transportation, manufacturing, and other sectors of the economy.