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A review of pumped hydro energy storage development in significant international electricity markets

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journal contribution
posted on 27.02.2019 by Edward Barbour, I.A. Grant Wilson, Jonathan Radcliffe, Yulong Ding, Yongliang Li
The global effort to decarbonise electricity systems has led to widespread deployments of variable renewable energy generation technologies, which in turn has boosted research and development interest in bulk Electrical Energy Storage (EES). However despite large increases in research funding, many electricity markets with increasingly large proportions of variable renewable generation have seen little actual bulk EES deployment. While this can be partly attributed to the need for technological developments, it is also due to the challenge of fairly rewarding storage operators for the range of services that storage provides to the wider network, especially in markets that have undergone significant restructuring and liberalisation. Pumped Hydroelectric Energy Storage (PHES) is the overwhelmingly established bulk EES technology (with a global installed capacity around 130 GW) and has been an integral part of many markets since the 1960s. This review provides an historical overview of the development of PHES in several significant electrical markets and compares a number of mechanisms that can reward PHES in different international market frameworks. As well as providing up-to-date information about PHES, a primary motivation for this work is to provide an overview about the types of rewards available to bulk EES for the wider storage community including investors, technology developers and policy-makers. Observing that bulk EES projects seem to be unattractive investments for the private sector, the paper also includes a brief discussion in terms of public sector investment.


This work was supported by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council under the grants EP/K002252/1 (Energy Storage for Low Carbon Grids) and EP/L014211/1 (Next Generation Grid Scale Thermal Energy Storage Technologies).



  • Mechanical, Electrical and Manufacturing Engineering

Published in

Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews




421 - 432


BARBOUR, E. ... et al, 2016. A review of pumped hydro energy storage development in significant international electricity markets. Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, 61, pp.421-432.


© Elsevier


AM (Accepted Manuscript)

Publisher statement

This work is made available according to the conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0) licence. Full details of this licence are available at: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/

Publication date



This paper was published in the journal Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews and the definitive published version is available at https://doi.org/10.1016/j.rser.2016.04.019.