Transforming the U.S. Market with a New Application of Ternary-Type Pumped-Storage Hydropower Technology: Preprint

David Corbus, Mark Jacobson, Jin Tan, Gregory Stark, Dale Jenne, Eduard Muljadi, Zerui Dong, Martin Racine, Eli Bailey

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper


As the deployment of wind and solar technologies increases at an unprecedented rate across the United States and in many world markets, the variability of power output from these technologies expands the need for increased power system flexibility. Energy storage can play an important role in the transition to a more flexible power system that can accommodate high penetrations of variable renewable technologies. This project focuses on how ternary pumped storage hydropower (T-PSH) coupled with dynamic transmission can help this transition by defining the system-wide benefits of deploying this technology in specific U.S. markets. T-PSH technology is the fastest responding pumped hydro technology equipment available today for grid services. T-PSH efficiencies are competitive with lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries, and T-PSH can provide increased storage capacity with minimal degradation during a 50-year lifetime. This project evaluates T-PSH for grid services ranging from fast frequency response (FFR) for power system contingency events and enhanced power system stability to longer time periods for power system flexibility to accommodate ramping from wind and solar variability and energy arbitrage. In summary, this project: Compares power grid services and costs, including ancillary services and essential reliability services, for T-PSH and conventional pumped storage hydropower (PSH) - Evaluates the dynamic response of T-PSH and PSH technologies and their contribution to essential reliability services for grid stability by developing new power system model representations for T-PSH and performing simulations in the Western Interconnection - Evaluates production costs, operational impacts, and energy storage revenue streams for future power system scenarios with T-PSH focusing on time frames of 5 minutes and more - Assesses the electricity market-transforming capabilities of T-PSH technology coupled with transmission monitoring and dynamic control. This paper presents an overview of the methodology and initial, first-year preliminary findings of a 2-year in-depth study into how advanced PSH and dynamic transmission contribute to the transformation and modernization of the U.S. electric grid. This project is part of the HydroNEXT Initiative funded by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) that is focused on the development of innovative technologies to advance nonpowered dams and PSH. The project team consists of the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (project lead), Absaroka Energy, LLC (Montana-based PSH project developer), GE Renewable Energy (PSH pump/turbine equipment supplier), Grid Dynamics, and Auburn University (lead for NREL/Auburn dynamic modeling team).
Original languageAmerican English
Number of pages14
StatePublished - 2018
EventHydroVision International - Charlotte, North Carolina
Duration: 26 Jun 201828 Jun 2018


ConferenceHydroVision International
CityCharlotte, North Carolina

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/CP-5D00-71522


  • T-PSH
  • ternary-type pumped storage hydropower


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