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Comparison between seasonal pumped-storage and conventional reservoir dams from the water, energy and land nexus perspective

Hunt, Julian David, Byers, Edward, Riahi, Keywan, Langan, Simon
Energy conversion and management 2018 v.166 pp. 385-401
capital, case studies, climate change, dams (hydrology), electricity, electricity generation, environmental impact, evaporation, governance, income, population growth, social impact, topography, water power, water resources, water storage, Brazil
Renewable sources of energy are providing an increasing share of the electricity generation mix, but their intermittency drives a need for energy storage. At the same time, water resources are increasingly scarce due to changes in demand, such as from population growth, supply side pressures such as climate change and governance challenges relating to poor management. Large storage reservoirs are used for water management and for energy storage. However, some existing and proposed hydropower reservoirs require vast areas of land and have considerable social and environmental impacts. Growing concerns on water and energy storage from a water-energy-land nexus approach motivated this study. Our objective is to compare how energy and water storage services, such as hydropower generation, electricity grid and water management, are provided with Seasonal Pumped-Storage (SPS) and Conventional Reservoir Dams (CRD) plants. Our case study region is Brazil, a country with extensive hydropower capacity and development plans, for which we compare the cost, land requirement and social impacts between CRD and potential SPS plants. Whilst seasonal pumped-storage have higher capital costs than conventional reservoir dams, given the much lower land requirements and evaporative losses, they are a valuable water and energy storage alternative especially in locations with plain topography and high evaporation. Results show that if Sobradinho CRD was built today it would result in a $USD 1.46 billion loss, on the other hand, Muquém SPS plant would result in a $USD 0.67b revenue.