China’s State Grid to Spend $5.7 Billion on Pumped Hydro Plants

State Grid Corp. of China, the dominant electricity distributor in the world’s biggest energy consumer, will invest 38.7 billion yuan ($5.7 billion) to build five pumped hydro storage plants as part of the nation’s efforts to ease idled solar and wind power capacity.

The projects, in Hebei, Jilin, Zhejiang, Shandong provinces and the far west Xinjiang autonomous region, will have a total capacity of 6 gigawatts and are expected to come online from 2026, the company said Wednesday in a statement.

Pumped hydro storage allow excess power to be saved by pumping water from lower to upper reservoirs when electricity demand is low, then releasing it back down to generate electricity when consumption is high.

China is utilizing technologies such as large-scale storage and ultra-high voltage power lines to help reduce renewable power waste. The nation aims to develop about 40 gigawatts of pumped hydro storage capacity by 2020.

Xinjiang and Jilin are among regions in China with the highest curtailment rates of renewable power. Overall, the nation idled about 2.9 percent of solar power in the first nine months of last year and 7.7 percent of wind.

Related: China Hopes to Lessen Solar, Wind Curtailment in 2019

Pumped hydropower is a topic on the agenda at the upcoming HydroVision International, which takes place in Portland, Oregon, July 23-25, 2019. Learn more about the event here.  
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