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Selection date: 12/3/2019

The U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Water Power Technologies Office (WPTO) issued a Notice of Opportunity for Technical Assistance to perform techno-economic studies—including cost-benefit, power market, financial, and valuation analyses—to evaluate the long-term value of two selected pumped-storage hydropower (PSH) projects. These studies will provide PSH developers the capability to estimate the value of a proposed PSH project and compare financial revenue streams under current market structures relative to the economic value of PSH to the grid. WPTO selected two projects: The GridAmerica Holdings, Inc. Goldendale Energy Storage Project and the Absaroka Energy Banner Mountain Project. 

The techno-economic studies will be carried out by a Technical Assistance team comprising subject matter experts from the following DOE national laboratories: Argonne National Laboratory, Idaho National Laboratory, National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, and Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. The Technical Assistance team has developed draft guidance for methodologies and approaches to PSH valuation. Through these studies, the team will test and refine the valuation guidance, after which the guidance and valuation tools will be transferred to the industry and made publicly available.

These techno-economic studies will support a larger multi-year research strategy to define the capabilities and estimate the value that hydropower and PSH resources contribute to electric grid resiliency and reliability and how those contributions could be altered for a changing grid.

Project Descriptions:

  • GridAmerica Holdings, Inc., Goldendale Energy Storage Project: GridAmerica Holdings’ proposed Goldendale project would be located on the border of Oregon and Washington at the northern terminus of the Pacific AC and DC intertie transmission lines. This project, if constructed, could facilitate the storage and export of the growing amount of wind energy available in the Northwest to nearby states. Using existing pumping infrastructure from an old aluminum smelting facility, the closed-loop system would include three variable-speed reversible pump-turbines for a total generating capacity of 1,200 megawatts (MW) and a total pumping capacity of 1,552 MW. The project would provide a range of services to the grid to support reliability and resilience in addition to specifically balancing variable wind generation. A preliminary permit for the project was issued by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) in March 2018.
  • Absaroka Energy, Banner Mountain Project: Absaroka Energy’s proposed Banner Mountain project would be located in central Wyoming—a region with increased development of variable renewable energy sources like wind. The project also lies along the proposed route of the Energy Gateway West 500-kilovolt (kV) transmission line, which would enable it to serve additional areas in the western and southwestern United States. Banner Mountain would be a closed-loop facility that would include three ternary units—a PSH technology that enables rapid switching between generating and pumping modes—for a total capacity of 400 MW. The project would support grid reliability and resilience by balancing variable generation and enabling improved operation of existing transmission and generation assets in the region. A preliminary permit for the project was issued by FERC in May 2018.