Pumped Hydroelectric Energy Storage

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Cross section of a pumped hydroelectricity station. Image Courtesy of Voith Hydro.

How it Works: Gravitational potential energy ↔ kinetic energy ↔ electricity

Water is pumped up hill with excess electrical energy which is stored as gravitational potential energy. When energy is needed, water flows down through the generator to produce electricity.

  • Ability to integrate inverter-based renewables
  • Mature, flexible, bulk storage
  • Capital intensive
  • Geographical limits
  • Permitting (open-loop)
Technology Variations:
Applications: Bulk, long-duration services, power regulation and load following
AC RTE Efficiency: 70-85%
Cycle Life: 60-100 years1
Technology Readiness Level (TRL): 9 - Fully Mature
Installed Capacity: >160 GW


  1. The world’s water battery: Pumped hydropower storage and the clean energy transition, IHA, December 2018"