An Assessment of Deploying Advanced Pumped Storage Hydropower Technology in U.S. Electricity Markets

Mark Jacobson, Jin Tan, Eduard Muljadi, Dave Corbus, Zerui Dong, Kim Jinho, Eli Bailey, Matt Pevarnik, Martine Racine, Antoine St. Hilaire, Chris Hodge

Research output: NRELTechnical Report


Pumped storage hydropower (PSH) is a type of hydropower technology where energy can be stored and generated by moving water between two reservoirs of differing elevations. In addition to providing 97% of the total utility-scale hydropower storage in the United States, PSH plants have operational characteristics - such as high ramp rates and the ability to provide reserves - that contribute to greater flexibility and reliability of the power grid. New PSH technologies can provide additional flexibility beyond existing, fixed-speed units. With the emergence of high levels of variable renewable energy resources (e.g., wind and solar), energy storage is expected to be crucial to the reliability and reliance of the power grid in a low-carbon future. At diurnal and longer durations, PSH plants have some of the lowest costs per unit of energy, have been proven to be reliable and efficient, are not cycle-limited, and typically have long lives, often exceeding 50 years. The work presented here focuses on a new generation of PSH: ternary PSH and quaternary PSH (together referred to as T/Q-PSH). Given recent experience in Europe, grid operators in the United States and elsewhere are increasingly focusing their attention on T/Q-PSH as a proven, financeable technology that can offer utility-scale, long-duration, fast-acting energy storage capabilities and grid services. T/Q-PSH differs from conventional PSH in that it can provide fast-response ancillary services during both generating and pumping operations. This capability together with fast mode switching times are key attributes that make T/Q-PSH technologies attractive for managing and stabilizing electricity systems with high amounts of variable renewable energy.
Original languageAmerican English
Number of pages130
StatePublished - 2023

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/TP-7A40-74775


  • PSH
  • pumped storage hydropower
  • quaternary PSH
  • ternary PSH


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