The energy transition is upon us. And it has governments around the world turning to solar and wind power to help meet aggressive renew- able energy targets. However, grid operators face challenges when the sun isn’t shining or the wind isn’t blowing. That’s just the intermittent nature of some of these renewable energy sources. If we want to take advantage of all that energy, we need the capacity to store it. Energy storage helps to quickly bring large amounts of power online to fill the gaps during times when wind or solar generation isn’t possible. Generally, when we think about energy storage we think about batter - ies. But when we talk about hydroelectric projects, energy storage can come in the form of pumped storage. In the US, pumped storage accounts for 95 percent of the energy storage capacity. And we will need to see more of these projects come online as we continue to navigate the energy transition. The good news? We are seeing pumped storage projects in development. However, there are several barriers to progress in the industry that we will need to overcome. Let’s look at what pumped storage is, how it can help us, the barriers to adoption, and some examples of projects across the US, particularly in the west where pumped storage projects are desperately needed to meet rising energy demands. Pumped storage in a nutshell Pumped storage has the capability to pump water from a lower reser - voir to an upper reservoir in periods where there is excess electricity on the grid or when energy prices are low. The water can then be released back through the reversible turbines as needed to meet energy demand. Essentially, it is a utility-scale “water battery” with virtually immediate response time. How does pumped storage work? Well, pumped storage projects have two reservoirs close together with a significant elevation difference. These reservoirs are connected by pipelines that pass through a pow- erhouse. The powerhouse contains reversible pump turbines that can generate electricity while in turbine mode and store energy while in pump mode. This ability to store energy for times of high demand works great for days when the sun isn’t shining and the wind isn’t blowing. The ability to use excess energy that would otherwise be lost due to lack of battery storage capacity makes pumped storage even more impactful. Pumped storage hydropower acts as a “water battery” that can sustainably power our communities By Vik Iso-Ahola
Pumped storage projects will grow increasingly more popular as the US weens itself off fossil fuels. Why? Because they have the unique ability to provide energy reserves and grid reliability. An estimated 36 gigawatts (GW) of new pumped storage capacity could be added to the US grid. Both operators and consumers see pumped storage as a proven and sustainable solution to our energy storage needs. Challenges for pumped storage projects Pumped storage projects can be complex to say the least. Challenges for new pumped storage plants include size, capital cost, reliance on specific geographies like mountains, and prolonged development timelines. In recent years, developers and experts are revisiting these challenges with a new enthusiasm exploring potential sites outside of the typical geography and involving new technologies. But the biggest barrier for pumped storage projects? Regulatory road - blocks. The current regulatory framework and energy market structure in the US require a long-term commitment and vision for these proj- ects to be built. This causes a lengthy permitting process and leads to projects not going ahead. In fact, the Federal Energy Regulatory Com - mission (FERC) has issued only a small handful of pumped storage facility licenses in recent years. Policy changes are needed to support the timely development of additional grid-scale energy storage. The Seminoe Pumped Storage Project Recently, our team was selected by rPlus Hydro to conduct a detailed feasibility study for the Seminoe Pumped Storage Project. The project is located on the Seminoe Reservoir, approximately 30 miles outside Rawlins, Wyoming.
Structural Engineers Axiom #7 Structural Engineers Axiom #7
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January 2023 csengineermag.com
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