The US Department of Energy (DOE) announced a new prize competition to support the development of pumped storage hydropower: the Furthering Advancements to Shorten Time (FAST) Commissioning for Pumped Storage Hydropower (PSH) prize. The prize seeks novel solutions and technologies that address the non-regulatory challenges PSH developers face deploying new storage projects and supports the goal to reduce the time to commission PSH from its current 10 years to less than five.
PSH is a type of hydroelectric energy storage. It is a configuration of two water reservoirs at different elevations that can generate power (discharge) as water moves down through a turbine; this draws power as it pumps water (recharge) to the upper reservoir.
Diagram of the TVA pumped storage facility at Raccoon Mountain Pumped-Storage Plant.
PSH capabilities can be characterized as open loop—where there is an ongoing hydrologic connection to a natural body of water—or closed loop, where the reservoirs are not connected to an outside body of water.
Pumped-storage currently accounts for 95% of all utility-scale energy storage in the United States.
Finalists will receive vouchers for up to 50 hours of support from one of four DOE national laboratories to prepare for a pitch contest which will result in up to 3 winners and up to $550,000 of combined cash prizes and voucher support.
Today’s electricity system is changing rapidly, creating new opportunities for hydropower and PSH to contribute to system resilience, reliability, and affordability. PSH is a key storage technology that supports increased integration of variable generation resources. However, large capital investments and long lead times required to get PSH projects commissioned serve as deterrents to would-be developers and utilities.
The FAST Commissioning Prize provides both cash and in-kind laboratory support prizes. The goal of the prize is to catalyze new solutions, designs and strategies to accelerate PSH development. Concepts could include innovative PSH concepts, new layouts, creative construction management, improved construction equipment, application of advanced manufacturing, or standardization of equipment. In the first stage, 10 finalists will be selected to receive 50 hours of support over approximately three months from the FAST national laboratory partners in preparation for a pitch contest with up to 3 winners and up to $950,000 of combined cash prizes and vouchers support.
This prize is part of a larger $2-million effort conducted by DOE in partnership with Argonne National Laboratory, National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, and Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, that will leverage the technical expertise, facilities, and marketing reach of the national laboratory network to ensure maximum visibility, technical applicability, and impact. In addition to the prize, the national laboratories are developing an analytical baseline framework to help industry and understand the costs, time and risk associated with PSH.
The first stage of the prize closes on 24 May 2019.