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Pumped Hydro Energy Storage Dominates

Study shows new-generation pumped hydro continues its upward swing, as evidenced by Absaroka Energy’s 400-MW Pumped Storage Hydro Project.

Pumped hydro facilities dominate the energy storage landscape, size-wise. A July 6, 2017, snapshot of U.S. energy storage projects shows that pumped hydro energy storage provides 95% (or 183.8 GW out of the total 193.3 GW total) of current U.S. energy storage capacity.


   DOE Energy Storage Database (All Current Projects)*
 Energy Storage Technology Type  Total Capacity (GW) Percent of Total 
 Electro-chemical  3.28  1.7%
 Electro-mechanical  2.62  1.4%
 Hydrogen Storage  0.02  0
 Liquid Air Energy Storage  0.01  0
 Pumped Hydro Storage  183.80  95.1%
 Thermal Storage  3.62  1.9%
 Grand Total  193.34 100% 
  *Includes 1,322 operational facilities, and 262 announced, contracted or under construction, but excludes decommissioned facilities.

Study by DOE of Pumped Storage Hydro Commenced

Absaroka Energy LLC, a Montana Energy Development Co., has been selected by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to participate in a pumped storage hydro (PSH) study. This award is one of six selected by DOE through the HydroNEXT initiative. Absaroka’s 400-MW Gordon Butte Pumped Storage Project will be used as a reference project in the study.

Absaroka Energy, the developer of the Gordon Butte Pumped Storage Hydro Project, has teamed up with DOE’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), NaturEner and GE Renewable Energy to conduct the $1.25 million, 24-month study to support the development of a new generation of advanced PSH projects throughout the United States.

“The project team recognizes the need for solutions using best-in-class technology and innovation system approaches for the nation’s power grid,” said Carl Borgquist, president of Absaroka Energy. “Our mission, which supports the DOE’s Hydropower Vision, is to further develop a new generation of hydro projects, including capturing the low-cost capacity, regulation, and energy storage capabilities provided by advanced pumped storage hydro.” 

The NREL-led study will focus on assessing and quantifying how modern Ternary pumped storage technology can solve the grid integration challenges facing renewable energy in the most cost-effective manner. To do so, advanced fast-acting pump/turbine technology will be paired with sophisticated transmission monitoring and control equipment to evaluate the proposed results of improved renewable integration; reduced development costs and timelines; updated comparisons with other conventional hydro and energy storage resources; and assess the replicability of this model throughout the United States.

“We are looking forward to evaluating the full benefits of this system,” said Mark Jacobson, NREL senior project leader. “Our goal is to demonstrate the improved flexibility of this approach and how it can be replicated to improve pumped storage hydro’s ability to integrate renewables.”

T&D World provided additional perspective in Energy Storage: Let’s Not Neglect the Potential for New Pumped Hydro Storage. ♦


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