Electrical Systems of Pumped Storage Hydropower Plants: Electrical Generation, Machines, Power Electronics, and Power Systems

Eduard Muljadi, Robert Nelms, Erol Chartan, Robi Robichaud, Lindsay George, Henry Obermeyer

Research output: NRELTechnical Report


Adjustable-speed (AS) pumped storage hydropower (PSH) technology has the potential to become a large, consistent contributor to grid stability enabling higher penetrations of wind and solar energy on the future U.S. power system. AS-PSH has high-value characteristics, such as fast response to provide ancillary services to the grid, because it is a power converter interface with the grid (like battery storage), but at the same time it has the energy content large enough to supply both short-term (seconds-to-minutes) and long-term (minutes-to-hours) of energy needs, like more conventional power plants. However, designs must be optimized to lower the capital expenditure (CapEx) and to provide a high-quality grid interface capability (e.g. power quality, ancillary service provider, fault-tolerant or fault ride-through capability), which is a primary factor in the acceptance of AS-PSH into a utility’s generation mix. This CapEx will be greatly affected by the cost savings associated with the civil structure, turbine design, power electronics, control systems, or unique generator designs. A holistic design must be considered to get a full picture of the benefits of the technology proposed. The AS-PSH can be controlled to reduce the impact of transient disturbance on a power system and at the same time can be controlled to minimized subsequent component fatigue and potential oscillation modes within the plant, with the overall impact in reducing the operational expenditures (OpEx).Generating clean power to meet standards such as Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) 519 and International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) 1000-3-2 will be a continuing challenge. For many technology developers, however, improved AS-PSH technologies will become a key component of generator-storage systems of the future given the prospects of increased performance and decreasing costs, and the ever-increasing penetration of renewables (e.g wind power and solar power).
Original languageAmerican English
Number of pages39
StatePublished - 2021

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/TP-5000-74721


  • electrical generation
  • machines
  • power electronics
  • power systems
  • pumped storage hydropower


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