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Pictured above is a diagram of Shell Energy North America’s floating reservoir concept for closed-loop configurations.
Pictured above is a diagram of Shell Energy North America’s floating reservoir concept for closed-loop configurations.
(Source: SENA)

Project Summary

In this project, Shell Energy North America (SENA) is developing a standard design catalogue for fast-deploying, small, modular pumped storage hydropower (PSH) configurations. As part of the catalogue, SENA is exploring the feasibility a floating membrane technology option that would serve as a storage reservoir for closed-loop configurations. Closed-loop PSH typically consists of two reservoirs that are not connected to naturally-flowing sources of water, and therefore tend to have less environmental impacts. Constructing a conventional lower reservoir to achieve closed-loop status would require major civil works, including blasting near the river or lake. Using a floating member would remove the need for excavation and would serve as a reliable, safe, and low-cost option for refiguring naturally abundant, open-loop sites into closed-loop opportunities for PSH. 

Project Snapshot
Project TitleHydro Battery Systems Catalog Development
AwardeeShell Energy North America
Awardee HQ LocationTexas
DOE Funding Amount$1,250,000
Awardee Cost Share$1,032,000
Program AreaPSH and Grid Reliability
Recipient TypeIndustry
Award TypeCompetitive Funding Opportunity Announcement
Year Awarded2016
Work LocationsCalifornia, Tennessee, Texas, Washington
Funding OpportunityHydroNext: Innovative Technologies to Advance Non-Powered Dam and Pumped- Storage Hydropower Development
Congressional District(s)CA-12, TN-3, TX-18, WA-2, WA-4, WA-5

What You Need to Know


This project supports research and analysis to improve the ability of hydropower and pumped storage to provide essential flexibility and reliability services for the rapidly evolving electric grid. PSH allows for quick responses to instability or power outages and balances variable generation such as wind or solar. The United States has the potential to add 36 gigawatts of new, flexible, low-cost PSH, by 2050--more than double the current U.S. pumped-storage capacity. 

  • Reduce costs and environmental impacts associated with small closed-loop pumped-storage configurations.
  • Improve the reliability and safety of closed-loop pumped-storage configurations.
  • Develop and commercialize a small pumped-storage technology solutions catalog, or a library of standardized system elements, that utilizes modularization methodologies and powerful supply chains from the oil and gas industry to achieve economic and environmental feasibility.
  • Through prototyping, develop and test a floating reservoir technology as a reliable, safe, and low-cost way to create closed‐loop configuration opportunities on natural open‐loop sites.

About the Water Power Technologies Office

The U.S. Department of Energy's Water Power Technologies Office enables research, development, and testing of emerging technologies to advance marine energy as well as next-generation hydropower and pumped-storage systems for a flexible, reliable grid.