Pumped storage hydro could make energy system more flexible

Pumped Storage Hydro (PSH) is one of the best proven technologies available at scale to provide the required flexibility the energy system needs. That’s according to a report by sustainability […]

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By Jacqueline Echevarria

Pumped Storage Hydro (PSH) is one of the best proven technologies available at scale to provide the required flexibility the energy system needs.

That’s according to a report by sustainability consultant DNV GL and funded by the Scottish Government, SSE and Scottish Power.

It calls for new market mechanisms that reflect the value PSH brings to the electricity system.

‘The Benefits of Pumped Storage Hydro to the UK’ report found that there are four PSH schemes in the country with aggregate power output and storage capacity of 2.8GW and 24GWh respectively.

Although a number of sites have been identified by investors to develop new PSH capacity and new 50GWh of capacity have permission to be built, no new schemes have been commissioned since the 1980s, the report added.

The report outlines the benefits PSH could provide to the system such as provide security of supply and a wide range of ancillary services needed for operation in the future low carbon world with capabilities similar to or better than thermal generation and other energy storage technologies.

It could also alleviate network congestion costs by storing excess generation in constrained zones for later use and avoid waste of low carbon electricity production during periods of low demand.

The report calls on government to consider the introduction of a cap and floor style mechanism, as used by interconnectors which have a similar investment profile to pumped storage hydro.

Paul Wheelhouse, Scottish Energy Minister said: “This report outlines the huge opportunity around pumped storage hydro. This tried and tested technology can support peak demand and effectively store greater levels of electricity at times when renewable energy output is high but demand is low.

“This part of the hydropower industry needs a supportive policy and market framework – such as a ‘cap and floor’ mechanism, as is used for interconnectors – and I call upon the UK Government to heed calls from the sector and work with the industry and Scottish Government to remove investment barriers that prevent new pumped storage hydro projects being built.”