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Pumped-storage plants rising on nation's green push

By LIU YUKUN | China Daily | Updated: 2022-06-29 09:22

Employees check equipment at a pumped-storage hydropower plant in Wuhu, Anhui province, in November. [Photo/Xinhua]

Clean power facilities gain ground on policy support, advantages over other new energy units

China is ramping up pumped-storage hydroelectricity (PSH) capacity in an effort to boost new energy development and ensure stable operations of the grid, according to a recent industry report.

An estimated installed capacity of 9 million kilowatts will be put into operation this year, pushing the total PSH installed capacity to about 45 million kW by year-end. With more than 200 PSH stations to be installed during the 14th Five-Year Plan (2021-25), the total installed capacity will reach 62 million kW by 2025, the report said.

The report, Development Report of Pumped Storage Industry 2021, was published by the China Renewable Energy Engineering Institute on Friday.

The total installed capacity of PSH in China increased 15.6 percent year-on-year to 36.39 million kW by the end of 2021, ranking tops in the world, the report said.

Yi Yuechun, deputy director-general of the institute, said PSH can abate the fluctuating output of intermittent energy sources like solar and wind power as well as provide energy reservations, making it essential to new energy development as China transitions to a greener economy.

"Unlike energy from conventional generation sources, energy from renewable sources, such as wind and solar, is uncontrollable and cannot be stored on a large scale, which can be a problem, especially during peak demand, making pumped-storage essential to new energy development," Yi said.

With massive wind and solar projects set to be installed in the Gobi Desert and other arid areas, posing challenges in long-distance electricity transmission and new energy consumption, PSH is becoming more prominent, the report said.

Zheng Shengan, vice-chairman and secretary-general of the China Society for Hydropower Engineering, called for the construction of bases that contain multiple functions including solar and wind power generation and pumped-storage hydroelectricity in arid areas, as well as the construction of small and medium-sized PSH facilities near new energy generation plants, as a supplement to large-sized PSH power stations.

The government has also released supportive policies for the development of PSH. Last April, the National Development and Reform Commission and the National Energy Administration came up with a series of suggestions to improve the PSH price mechanism.

In September, a mid to long-term development plan (2021-35) for PSH was released by the National Energy Administration, which included promoting small and medium-sized projects and strengthening technology innovation.

According to the plan, China aims to have its installed capacity of PSH in operation surpass 62 million kW by 2025 and 120 million kW by 2030.

Zhao Zenghai, deputy director-general of the China Renewable Energy Engineering Institute, said the development of PSH stations in arid areas, which are mainly in northwestern China, will also provide more job opportunities, boost the local economy and improve ecology and the environment.

The report said the wide distribution of PSH stations and the large scale of the stations require big investment, which will benefit the local economy in various aspects, such as improving the electricity network and transportation, offering job opportunities and enhancing the livelihood of local communities.

China's rapid development and the huge need for PSH also attracted various investors, according to the report. Aside from State Grid Xinyuan Group Co Ltd and China's Southern Power Grid's PSH power unit, which are two major players in the field, companies such as China Three Gorges Corp, China Energy, and State Power Investment Corp Ltd also plan to invest in PSH stations.

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