A Component-Level Bottom-Up Cost Model for Pumped Storage Hydropower

Research output: NRELTechnical Report


Pumped Storage Hydropower (PSH) is currently the largest source of utility-scale electricity storage in the U.S. and worldwide. As the accelerating deployment of variable renewable technologies creates opportunity and value for energy storage, it has become increasingly important to characterize PSH costs to understand how it competes. Site-specific considerations and limited cost data in the public domain make it difficult to estimate capital costs for potential new PSH sites. This report documents a spreadsheet-based tool that addresses this challenge and creates a component-level bottom-up cost model for PSH that can be made publicly available for widespread use. It uses detailed site-level physical characteristics and design specifications to calculate key performance and cost parameters for individual components and the project as a whole. The model was developed in consultation with HDR, Inc. and Small Hydro Consulting to ensure it aligns with industry expectations. It enables PSH cost exploration across a wide range of system assumptions and could be customized or extended for the needs of a variety of users.
Original languageAmerican English
Number of pages39
StatePublished - 2023

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/TP-6A40-84875


  • cost model
  • electricity
  • hydropower
  • PHS
  • PSH
  • pumped hydropower storage
  • pumped storage hydropower


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