In Germany, due to cheap afternoon solar power, pumped hydro operators have been running on two cycles a day, not just the normal one at night. Essentially, this means that you’re doubling the potential of existing pumped hydro infrastructure.
Here’s a little more info on this from KMB48:
Solar has driven down the afternoon wholesale price of electricity to approximately the same level as midnight when pumped hydro normally charge up their reservoirs.
Pumped solar relies on price differentials of daily electric markets. At night, when old fashioned coal and nuclear power is abundant and not in demand, power prices are cheap. Pumped hydro operators buy the cheap nighttime power to run pumps to move water to high ground. During daytime peaks, electricity prices are higher, so the pumped storage operator let’s the water run down through turbines to generate instant-on electricity to meet peak demand.
What’s new is that there is now a new low price trough in the afternoon in Germany since so much solar power has been installed. There is one peak price in the morning and another peak price in the late afternoon/early evening. In the mid afternoon on sunny days, wholesale prices are about the same as at midnight. This allows pumped hydro operators to recharge their reservoirs in the afternoon as well as the evening.
Now, Japan, which is putting full blast on renewable energy, has a lot of pumped hydro and is likely to see a similar trend occur. “Cheap solar power during afternoon peaks could double the number of pumped hydro cycles from one to two times per day” in Japan, KMB48 adds.
This is one of those rather hidden but huge benefits of large-scale solar power implementation.
Thank to the reader who passed this one on to me!
Image Credit: Qurren
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