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T-PSH combined with renewables, dynamic transmission control, and flexible AC transmission system devices.
T-PSH combined with renewables, dynamic transmission control, and flexible AC transmission system devices.
(Source: NREL)

Project Summary

The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) is combining a ternary pumped-storage hydropower (T-PSH) technology—the fastest-acting and most advanced system available—with sophisticated transmission monitoring and control equipment to address renewable energy integration issues. The project team is taking a systems approach to proving the feasibility of a new source of ancillary and balancing services using flexible-fast-acting and fast-ramping ternary PSH combined with dynamic transmission, resulting in a more cost-effective integration solution for renewable energy deployment.

Project Snapshot
Project TitleTransforming the U.S. Market with a New Application of Ternary-Type Pumped-Storage Hydropower Technology
AwardeeNational Renewable Energy Laboratory
Awardee HQ LocationColorado
DOE Funding Amount$1,250,000
Awardee Cost Share$250,000
Program AreaPSH and Grid Reliability
Recipient TypeLaboratory
Award TypeAnnual Operating Plan
Year Awarded2017
Work LocationsAlabama, California, Colorado, Montana, France
Funding OpportunityHydroNEXT: Innovative Technologies to Advance Non-Powered Dam and Pumped-Storage Hydropower Development
Congressional District(s)AL-3, CA-15, CO-7, MT-AL

What You Need to Know


This project supports research and development efforts toward commercializing T-PSH, a technology that adds to the resiliency and reliability of the nation’s power grid. It is believed that ternary technology, set in a hydraulic short-circuit configuration, can offer the widest range of operational services at the lowest cost and will provide flexible capacity. The generation capacity, energy storage, and fast-acting assets of T-PSH will play an important role in the evolution of the nation’s energy-generation fleet. 

  • Provides a proof-of-concept for a highly flexible system that can improve PSH’s ability to integrate variable renewables.
  • Provides increased storage capacity with minimal degradation during a 50-year life cycle.
  • Reduces transmission constraints while maintaining power system stability and improving the reliability of the power system.
  • Compare power grid services and costs, including ancillary services and essential reliability services, for T-PSH and conventional PSH.
  • Evaluate the dynamic response of T-PSH and PSH technologies and their contributions to essential reliability services for grid stability by developing new power system model representations for T-PSH and performing simulations in the Western Interconnection.
  • Evaluate production costs, operational impacts, and energy storage revenue streams for future power system scenarios with T-PSH, focusing on timeframes of five minutes or more.
  • Assess the electricity market-transforming capabilities of T-PSH technology combined with transmission monitoring and dynamic control.

Project Partners

Auburn University
Dynamic modeling
GE Renewable Energy
PSH pump, turbine equipment supplier
Absaroka Energy, LLC
PSH project developer
Grid Dynamics
Project advisor

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.