Abstract

Variable, renewable energy (VRE) generation such as solar power has seen a rapid increase in usage over the past decades. These power generation sources offer benefits due to their low marginal costs and reduced emissions. However, VRE assets are not dispatchable, which can result in a mismatch of the electric supply and demand curves. Pumped-storage hydropower (PSH) seeks to solve this by pumping water uphill during times of excess energy production and releasing the water back downhill through turbines during energy shortages, thus serving as a rechargeable battery. Creating new PSH systems, however, requires a large amount of capital and suitable locations. The United States Army Corps. of Engineers (USACE) is the largest producer of hydroelectric power within the United States, and as such, may have favorable sites for the addition of PSH. This study seeks to develop a method for evaluating these existing hydroelectric facilities using techno-economic methods to assess the potential for adding PSH. Each USACE facility was evaluated based on site specific characteristics from previously unpublished data to estimate the power generation and energy storage potential. The temporal nature of local wholesale electricity prices was accounted for to help estimate the financial feasibility of varying locations. Sensitivity analysis was performed to highlight how the method would identify the viability of facilities with different operational conditions. The methodologies detailed in this study will inform decision-making processes, and help enable a sustainable electric grid.

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