Global resource potential of seasonal pumped hydropower storage for energy and water storage

Julian D Hunt, Edward Byers, Yoshihide Wada, Simon Parkinson, David E H J Gernaat, Simon Langan, Detlef P van Vuuren, Keywan Riahi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Seasonal mismatches between electricity supply and demand is increasing due to expanded use of wind, solar and hydropower resources, which in turn raises the interest on low-cost seasonal energy storage options. Seasonal pumped hydropower storage (SPHS) can provide long-term energy storage at a relatively low-cost and co-benefits in the form of freshwater storage capacity. We present the first estimate of the global assessment of SPHS potential, using a novel plant-siting methodology based on high-resolution topographical and hydrological data. Here we show that SPHS costs vary from 0.007 to 0.2 US$ m-1 of water stored, 1.8 to 50 US$ MWh-1 of energy stored and 370 to 600 US$ kW-1 of installed power generation. This potential is unevenly distributed with mountainous regions demonstrating significantly more potential. The estimated world energy storage capacity below a cost of 50 US$ MWh-1 is 17.3 PWh, approximately 79% of the world electricity consumption in 2017.

Original languageEnglish
Article number947
JournalNature Communications
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2020


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