Global exploitation

Of all the energy storage technologies in use, pumped storage hydropower is by far the most widely adopted. Since its introduction in Switzerland in around 1904, plants have been built in other parts of Europe, in the USA, in China, in Japan and in many other countries.

Pumped storage facilities have often been built in conjunction with nuclear power plants. This combination allows the nuclear plant to run continuously at full power, its most effective mode of operation. Electricity from the generating plant not required immediately by the grid is stored for dispatching during peak demand periods. Nuclear power plants have generating capacities up to 1300 MW; only a pumped storage plant can provide the large storage capacity needed in this situation.

The two countries with the largest pumped storage hydropower capacities are Japan and the USA. Each has around 20,000 MW. In both cases many of these plants are associated with nuclear development. In the USA, for example, the bulk of the capacity was built between 1970 and 1990

when nuclear growth was greatest. There is a further 100,000 MW distributed across the globe, providing a global capacity or close to 140,000 MW.2

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