The eStorage Project, a consortium of European stakeholders in the “electric power value chain,” has released a study identifying a massive 2291 GWh of development-ready sites having existing reservoirs which can be used as new pumped hydro energy storage plants in the EU-15, Norway, and Switzerland.
Southern Norway is the region with the most potential feasible pumped storage capacity, accounting for 1242 GWh, or 54% of the study total, followed by the Alps, with 303 GWh or 13% of the study total (primarily Austria, France, Italy and Switzerland, and Germany). The Pyrenees in France and Spain show 118 GWh of feasible potential, 5% of the total realizable capacity in the study area.
The study was funded by the European Commission, seeking to develop cost-effective solutions for deploying flexible, reliable, GWh-scale energy storage across the EU. Of note, the 2291 GWh identified in the study is more than seven times the current installed capacity of European pumped hydro energy storage.
On its website, eStorage states it aims to improve energy management by developing a solution for cost-effective integration of intermittent renewable energy generation into the electrical grid.
“Pumped hydro storage power plants are currently the only economically feasible means of storing large amounts of excess energy, effectively enabling power plants to balance supply and demand.
“However, power regulation – the key to optimal grid stability – is only available in turbine mode. Adding variable speed technology to pumped hydro storage power plants increases plant efficiency and flexibility by allowing power regulation in both turbine and pumping mode. It also enables electric utilities to harness surplus power from intermittent sources like wind to fill pumped hydro storage plants’ upper reservoirs faster, storing the surplus energy for later use when demand is high or when no wind energy is available.
“Coupled with improved IT systems, variable speed technology would facilitate grid management for better real-time balancing of supply and demand.”
Pumped hydro energy storage plants are generally regarded as the only mature and cost-effective means for utility-scale capacity of storing electricity. By transferring water between two reservoirs at different elevations, these plants can deliver electricity when the system needs it (for example on a calm day when there is little electricity produced from wind generation) and they can store electricity from excess generation of wind and solar plants.
Pumped storage also plays an essential role in power regulation, which is the capability for generating units to rapidly adapt their output to keep generation and consumption balanced at all times. Electrical production and consumption need to be balanced to ensure the stability and continuous operation of electrical networks. Variable speed pumped storage units offer the added advantage of providing power regulation in generation and pump mode, e.g. 24 hours per day.
Image via eStorage
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