Pumped storage

Pumped storage is an essential player in the clean energy transition

Global energy demand is growing but at the same time there is a need for clean energy. This entails massively increasing the installed base of variable output renewable power generation capacity, like wind and solar. As a result, an economic solution for large-scale energy storage is becoming more important. Pumped storage power plants are currently the most economical way of efficiently storing large amounts of energy over a longer period.

Malta Oberstufe, Koelnbrein Dam, Austria


As the leading technology for energy storage services, pumped storage not only balances variable power production, but with its firm capacity it also serves as a reliable back-up. This ensures grid stability while reducing the risk of blackouts. Its inherent operational flexibility allows pumped storage to offer a wide spectrum of benefits and it plays a vital role within local and regional water and energy programs.

Benefits of a pumped storage:

  • Best-proven, low-risk technology
  • Balancing volatile renewable energy generation with demand
  • Managing grid bottlenecks
  • Supporting grid stability by virtue of a quick response to changing demand or sudden outages
  • Contributing to grid stability by increasing grid inertia and providing black start capability
  • Very long facility lifetime

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The Market

Currently, 94% of the global energy storage capacity, and over 96% of energy stored in grid-scale applications is pumped storage. According to a recent analysis paper by the International Hydropower Association (IHA), the estimated total energy stored in pumped storage reservoirs worldwide is up to 9,000 GWh.


The Technology

At its heart pumped storage power plant technology sees water pumped to a higher elevation reservoir when there is a surplus of electricity. This water is then released into lower elevation reservoirs to generate electricity when needed. There are three basic designs of pumped storage technology currently available, depending on the services required.

  • Reversible pump-turbines with fixed speed motor-generator
  • Ternary sets
  • Reversible pump-turbines with variable-speed motor-generator

Today, the focus is on smooth and stable operation, as well as an extended operational range, dynamic operations and a high degree of reliability and flexibility. This is despite the requirement for rapid load changes between pumping and generating. Improved structural integrity of the units ensures a long service life.


With ANDRITZ top-tier technology to a secure and clean energy future

For more than 90 years ANDRITZ has been positioned as one of the pioneers and reliable partner for pumped storage technology and projects around the world.

ANDRITZ has delivered more than 550 pumped storage units with a total capacity of almost 40,000 MW.

References & highlights

  • Pumped storage PDF : 1.2 MB
  • Large Hydro PDF : 5.5 MB