Hydropower’s Contributions to Grid Resilience

October 2021

Hydropower facilities can provide important contributions to grid resilience—or the grid’s ability to respond to and recover from high-impact, low-probability events like hurricanes or cyberattacks. The U.S. Department of Energy’s Water Power Technologies Office commissioned this report to create a framework to accurately assess hydropower’s contributions to grid resilience. The report outlines hydropower’s characteristics that enable grid resilience and identifies methods, tools, models, and data to analyze hydropower’s impact on resilience. The framework and accompanying toolkit allows system operators, regulators, and policy analysts to assess the role of hydropower under various extreme grid conditions, which will be integral for grid reliability and resilience. Insights from this report exemplify hydropower’s essential role in stabilizing the grid after sudden, large losses of energy generation and extreme weather impacts to net load. The report also highlights hydropower’s storage capabilities and flexibility as critical assets for ensuring grid reliability during extreme weather events.

Valuing Flexibility in Evolving Energy Markets: Current Status and Future Outlook for Hydropower

June 2021

The International Energy Agency Technology Collaboration Programme on Hydropower (also known as IEA Hydro) released its latest report—with lead authors from Argonne, Oak Ridge, and Pacific Northwest National Laboratories—under the working group Annex IX: Valuing Hydropower Services. Using a range of international case studies, the report presents a system-level review of how flexibility services are defined, procured, and valued in selected electricity markets, with a particular focus on the status and outlook for hydropower in evolving power grids. This report is the second publication in a series by the IEA Hydro Annex IX to encourage collaboration and knowledge sharing, raise awareness of the important role of hydropower in contemporary electricity system integration, and explore issues and solutions to fully realize the value of its contributions to electricity systems.

Overview of the Country’s/Region’s Electricity Market – USA

April 2021

As part of the International Forum on Pumped Storage Hydropower, the National Hydropower Association has submitted a pumped storage hydropower (PSH) policy paper aimed at identifying challenges and solutions to jump-start development in the United States. This policy paper will be used by the Policy and Market Frameworks Working Group to develop its overarching products and recommendations.

There are eight recommendations for policy changes across multiple jurisdictions, including Congress, wholesale markets, and state-level policies. Some recommendations aim to make improvements in the licensing process, but many of the proposed changes involve ensuring that PSH is considered among other storage technologies, its services are properly valued in wholesale markets, and it receives adequate treatment in federal tax incentives.

Pumped Storage Hydropower Valuation Guidebook – A Cost-Benefit and Decision Analysis Valuation Framework

March 2021

As an energy storage technology, pumped storage hydropower (PSH) supports various aspects of power system operations. However, determining the value of PSH plants and their many services and contributions to the system has been a challenge. The U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Water Power Technologies Office (WPTO) commissioned this project to advance the state of the art in assessing the value of PSH plants and their contributions to the power system. The objective was to develop detailed step-by-step valuation guidance that PSH developers, plant owners or operators, and other stakeholders can use to assess the value of existing or potential new PSH plants. WPTO is currently funding the development of an online PSH Valuation Tool that will help the users of the PSH Valuation Guidebook navigate through PSH valuation process.

Hydropower Value Study: Current Status and Future Opportunities

January 2021

To reveal the current landscape and prospective role and influence of hydropower operations on the nation’s electric grid, the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Water Power Technologies Office (WPTO) commissioned the Hydropower Value Study (HVS): Current Status and Future Opportunities. HVS explores current hydropower operations and resulting value in examples across the country. HVS shows that hydropower operations are changing in some regions, but hydropower continues to be a strong contributor to grid reliability and resilience. Hydropower also varies significantly across the country in terms of its technical capabilities and the purposes and roles it must fulfill. And while declining energy prices may challenge traditional value propositions for hydropower, new compensation mechanisms are emerging that better account for flexibility and other values hydropower provides.

Improving Hydropower Representation in Power System Models

November 2020

This report is a summary of the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and National Renewable Energy Laboratory Technical Workshop held March 6-7, 2019 in Salt Lake City, UT. The workshop brought together 40 diverse experts from 25 organizations to address critical challenges associated with modeling hydropower systems in the power grid. Leading international experts in power grid modeling, hydropower modeling, reservoir operations, as well as representatives of hydropower system operators, grid managers, national laboratories, US DOE, and other federal agencies discussed how hydropower modeling could be improved to better represent its dynamic role in a changing grid.

Pumped Storage Hydropower FAST Commissioning Technical Analysis

July 2020

This report was developed in tandem with the Furthering Advancements to Shorten Time (FAST) to Commissioning PSH Challenge and represents the underlying technical analysis that informed the competition. Lead by Oak Ridge National Laboratory, the report is designed to address barriers and solutions to PSH development by establishing baseline project development knowledge, defining key aspects of project development, and identifying opportunities to reduce project timelines, costs, and risks. The document’s scope includes post-licensing activities and excludes factors related to permitting or licensing.   

A Comparison of the Environmental Effects of Open-Loop and Closed-Loop Pumped Storage Hydropower

April 2020

This report, prepared by Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, compares the potential environmental effects of open-loop PSH projects with those of closed-loop PSH projects; describes how existing projects in other countries are avoiding, minimizing, or mitigating these effects and how proposed U.S. projects will address them; and discusses the relative significance of the environmental issues.

Flexible hydropower providing value to renewable energy integration

October 2019

This white paper, published by the International Energy Agency with contributions from the HydroWIRES team, provides a global perspective on the need for flexibility to enable renewable integration and hydropower’s capabilities to provide this flexibility across a range of time scales. The white paper also highlights future research needs, such as ways to improve hydropower’s capabilities for flexible operation.

Energy Storage Technology and Cost Characterization Report

July 2019

This report defines and evaluates cost and performance parameters of six battery energy storage technologies (BESS) and four non-BESS storage technologies. Data for combustion turbines are also presented. Cost information was procured for the most recent year for which data were available based on an extensive literature review, conversations with vendors and stakeholders, and summaries of actual costs provided from specific projects at sites across the United States. Detailed cost and performance estimates were presented for 2018 and projected out to 2025.

Hydropower Plants as Black Start Resources

May 2019

This report identifies the advantages of using hydroelectric power for black start and compares hydropower with other types of power plants for providing this valuable service to ensure the resiliency of the power grid. The report provides an overview of the critical role of black start capability to ensure timely restoration of grid operation after a major power grid outage.