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  • Writer's pictureBy The Financial District

Pump Storage Systems Give Hydropower A New Image

New research released this week by Global Energy Monitor reveals a transformation underway in hydroelectric projects — using the same gravitational qualities of water, but typically without building large, traditional dams like the Hoover in the American West or Three Gorges in China, Mira Rojanasakul and Max Bearak reported for the New York Times.

Photo Insert: Pumped storage isn’t a new idea but is undergoing a renaissance in countries where wind and solar power are also growing.

Instead, a technology called pumped storage is rapidly expanding. These systems involve two reservoirs: one on top of a hill and another at the bottom. When electricity generated from nearby power plants exceeds demand, it’s used to pump water uphill, essentially filling the upper reservoir as a battery.

Later, when electricity demand spikes, water is released to the lower reservoir through a turbine, generating power. Pumped storage isn’t a new idea. But it is undergoing a renaissance in countries where wind and solar power are also growing, helping allay concerns about weather-related dips in renewable energy output.

“Our data show that pumped storage is set to grow much faster than conventional dams,” said Joe Bernardi, who runs Global Energy Monitor’s hydropower tracker.

All the news: Business man in suit and tie smiling and reading a newspaper near the financial district.

“This trend is most pronounced in China, which accounts for over 80% of planned projects worldwide.” Some of the largest systems produce enough energy to power 2 million average American homes for an hour. In recent years, China has accounted for about half of the global growth in renewable energy.

According to official documents, China will roll out more wind and solar capacity each year between now and 2030 than Germany currently has in total.

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