U.S. DOE seeks technical assistance for pumped storage hydro study

Blenheim-Gilboa Hydroelectric Power Station

The U.S. Department of Energy’s Water Power Technologies Office has issued a Notice of Opportunity for Technical Assistance to perform a number of reviews associated with the long-term benefits and costs of two pumped storage hydroelectric plants.

The initiative will provide techno-economic, power market, financial and valuation analyses with the goal of giving pumped storage developers better tools for conveying its value.

Specifically, DOE notes the study will look to determine the value of bulk power/storage capacity, energy arbitrage, ancillary services, power system stability and transmission benefits. The report will also investigate and compare pumped storage revenue streams using current market structures relative to the economic value of pumped storage to the grid.

DOE values the total technical assistance at $3 million. Interested parties are encouraged to attend a webinar scheduled for May 24, and to submit optional letters of intent by June 12.

Full details on the webinar and contact information for the agency can be found via its website here.

Pumped storage has seen a surge of interest from both the government and private sector in recent weeks as utilities look to balance an ever-growing fleet of other renewables.

Speaking at Waterpower Week in Washington on Monday, however, DOE Undersecretary Mark Menezes said better understanding its role in the overall energy mix will be key to its development.

“First, new pumped storage — like all hydro — is difficult to build with long permitting timelines and high capital costs,” Menezes said. “And second, increasing resources like wind and solar on the grid make it harder to predict when the resources are needed, which makes system planning difficult.

“This research will develop technologies to make pumped storage cheaper, and easier to install and permit. It will also use data analytics to optimize hydropower and pumped storage operations in order to make them more flexible, while minimizing costs.”

These barriers were further detailed by the National Hydropower Association in its recently-released 2018 Pumped Storage Report.

Pumped storage will also take center stage at the Grid-Scale Energy Storage Summit, which takes place June 25-26th in conjunction with HydroVision International 2018. This new event looks to bring together utilities, developers, manufacturers, policy makers, grid managers and more to explore the synergies between pumped storage and other renewables.

For details about the Grid-Scale Energy Storage Summit, visit here.

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