Rational Cause for Optimism: Pumped Hydro Energy Storage

Amidst the noise, haste, and chaos of contemporary life there are extra constructive developments for humanity than one would possibly suppose. Everyone focuses on the disasters of the local weather disaster, and whereas these do encourage our each day work, we additionally really feel it’s essential to focus on the hopeful – the very actual improvements pushing our clear energy motion ahead. The function of this new column on our weblog is to discover noteworthy causes for optimism that we observe from ReVision Energy’s entrance row seat within the renewable energy enviornment. 

Rational Cause for Optimism: Pumped Hydro Energy Storage

by Co-Founder Phil Coupe

We start with earth-shattering (pun meant) information about easy methods to remedy the troublesome drawback of wind and solar “intermittency” – the truth that the solar doesn’t at all times shine and the wind doesn’t at all times blow. Modest progress is being achieved at the moment with battery storage, primarily lithium ion kind, whereby the battery in a home or small enterprise can retailer extra solar power generated when the solar is shining, after which launch that power when the solar goes down at evening or behind clouds in the course of the day. This strategy is efficient for comparatively small-scale storage techniques in single buildings or automobiles, however how can we have now sufficient saved power to exchange the electrical energy generated by a gas-fired power plant on the utility scale? Ultimately that is what we have to wean ourselves off the coal, oil, and gas-fired electrical energy that we’ve been counting on for greater than a century.

‘Pumped hydro’ is an old-school expertise with colossal potential to turn out to be one of the essential options to intermittency within the dawning new age of renewable energy + storage. Here’s a diagram of the way it works:

Would you be shocked, maybe elated, to be taught that there’s roughly 100 instances extra potential for pumped hydro energy storage than what is required for a worldwide transition to 100% renewable energy?! 

According to researchers at Australian National University’s College of Engineering, there are 616,000 naturally occurring locations on earth the place a pumped hydro energy storage (PHES) facility might be put in. We may even repurpose previous fossil gas websites to pumped hydro, like this former Kentucky coal mine – creating jobs and a cleaner native setting. In the atlas of potential PHES websites under, discover the density in northern New England:

If we zoom in somewhat nearer, we will see that Maine, New Hampshire, and western Massachusetts have vital potential to develop PHES services:

To illustrate the potential of this expertise, it’s helpful to know that China simply introduced the commissioning of the most important PHES system on earth. Located in Hebei province, the three.6 gigawatt facility consists of 12 reversible pump producing units with a capability of 300 megawatts every. It has a power era capability from storage of 6.6 billion kilowatt hours. That’s enough electrical energy to power roughly 660,000 properties for a yr!

3.6 gigawatt pumped hydro energy storage facility in China

We suppose the huge potential of PHES is a game-changer relating to envisioning a future with out polluting fossil fuels. A key takeaway from this PHES knowledge is that sure, we have now sufficient large-scale energy storage potential to allow a worldwide transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy. Another critically essential consideration is the social justice implications of creating PHES services. At current there are a number of PHES proposals within the West that might encroach on land that’s sacred to indigenous individuals. It is crucial we don’t repeat injustices of the previous in our pursuit of the higher future we all know is feasible for ourselves and generations to come back.

Take A Deeper Dive:

The Australian National University Study on PHES
China’s New Facility
The Conversation About PHES

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