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ANU finds 530,000 potential pumped-hydro sites worldwide

The zero-emission grids would mainly rely on solar photovoltaic (PV) and wind technology, with support from pumped-hydro storage and extra high voltage transmission between regions. Solar PV and wind constitute the largest and second largest respectively annual global net capacity additions. 

Pumped-hydro energy storage sites require pairs of reservoirs at different altitudes, typically with areas of a few hundred hectares, in hilly terrain and joined by a pipe or tunnel with a pump and turbine. Water is pumped uphill when wind and solar energy is plentiful, and electricity is available on demand by releasing the stored water through the turbine.

“Only a small fraction of the 530,000 potential sites we’ve identified would be needed to support a 100 per cent renewable global electricity system. We identified so many potential sites that much less than the best one per cent will be required,” said Dr Stocks from the ANU Research School of Electrical, Energy and Materials Engineering (RSEEME).

“Pumped hydro accounts for 97 percent of energy storage worldwide, has a typical lifetime of 50 years and is the lowest cost large-scale energy-storage technology available,” Mr Bin Lu said.

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Source: ANU Energy Change Institute

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