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A Pumped Hydro Energy-Storage Renaissance

Storage plants built for nuclear power are being revamped for wind and solar

3 min read
A Pumped Hydro Energy-Storage Renaissance
Uphill Both Ways: Renewable energy is driving construction of pumped hydro storage plants in Switzerland and elsewhere.
Photo: AXPO Services

Pumping water uphillto store energy in hydropower reservoirs is an idea that, by power grid standards, is as old as the hills that such “pumped storage” plants are built on. But with the rise of intermittent solar energy and wind power, this technology could soon experience a revival, experts say.

Japan is positioned to lead this renaissance. It has the largest number of pumped storage plants, capable of absorbing and discharging 26 gigawatts of power. Those plants are also technology leaders whose variable-speed pumps, developed in the 1990s, are uniquely adapted to shifting energy flows.

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Greg Mably

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