Hydropower Program

Grid Reliability, Resilience, & Integration (HydroWIRES)

Project Name: PSH Liner Study

Project Team: Argonne National Laboratory (lead), Oak Ridge National Laboratory, and Stantec Inc.

Lead Recipient Location: Lemont, Illinois

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In January 2023, Argonne National Laboratory released the Reservoir Lining for Pumped Storage Hydropower report, which examines the viability of different materials to line reservoirs at pumped storage hydropower (PSH) facilities. These facilities are frequently subject to rapid changes in water levels, which can put stress on reservoir lining systems. Therefore, effective and resilient lining is essential to minimizing leaks and maximizing the operational efficiency of PSH plants. Ultimately, this report will help improve decision-making on linings used at PSH facilities, which will make these facilities more resilient and strengthen their benefits to the grid.

Geomembrane liner systems have been used since the 1970s for various lining purposes but have not been used extensively in PSH reservoirs in the United States. Geomembrane liners are known for being thinner and less permeable than traditional liners, which makes them more reliable for reducing leakage. In the report, researchers identified the techno-economic benefits of geomembrane lining systems (synthetic membrane liners or barriers used to control the movement of fluid), outlined associated regulatory requirements, and laid out future areas of research and analysis in lining technology. 

A reservoir at a pumped storage hydropower facility

A report from Argonne National Laboratory examined the viability of different materials to line reservoirs at pumped storage hydropower facilities to help make them more resilient and strengthen their benefits to the grid.

Image from Taylor Mankle, National Renewable Energy Laboratory

Argonne National Laboratory led this collaborative project and focused on the literature review and techno-economic analysis. Oak Ridge National Laboratory and Stantec Inc. assisted with regulatory analysis and comparison of geomembrane liners to industry liners, respectively.

Due to the hydropower industry’s interest in this report, the project team plans to expand the study to include overviews of all major lining systems, develop a model to estimate costs of geomembrane lining systems, and create a case study focused on the cost model.