A study by eStorage, a European Commission-funded consortium based in Switzerland, covers the EU-15, Norway and Switzerland. It demonstrates huge potential for energy storage in European countries, which can be unlocked by using pumped hydro energy storage plants.
The researchers were focusing on water reservoirs that already exist in the countries and can be used for pumped hydro energy storage. By transferring water between two reservoirs at different elevations, these facilities can deliver electricity when the system needs it and store electricity generated by wind and solar plants. Using existing reservoirs, instead of building new ones, developers can lower costs and shorten the time required for a new storage facility to become operational.
The study shows that the combined potential storage capacity it the participating countries reaches 2,291 GWh. To provide the equivalent energy storage, it would require 95 million lithium-ion batteries of the type used in most electric cars.
According to the research, Southern Norway has the highest potential capacity of 1,242 GWh, which represents 54% of the total discovered by the researchers.
Our Norwegian hydro expert called any reservoir below 2.5 GWh a low priority for Norway, whereas for the rest of the study area, experts found reservoirs larger than 1 GWh very interesting, said Haike van de Vegte, Senior Consultant at DNV GL, partner of eStorage. Also, the experts were able to provide country-specific requirements on usage of the water or environmental regulations."
The research shows that pumped hydro energy storage facilities in the existing water bodies in Alps can potentially reach the combined capacity of 303 GWh. The Pyrenees mountain range in France and Spain has 118 GWh of feasible potential.
According to eStorage, the research has resulted in a ranked list of potential sites by country, with the total theoretical and realizable storage potential of each site. It can provide political and business leaders with valuable information about the development of new potentially exploitable storage plants.