The Value of Pumped Hydro Storage for Deep Decarbonization of the Spanish Grid

Anthony Fratto Oyler and John E. Parsons

May 2020

This paper addresses the role of pumped hydro storage (PHS) to decarbonization of the electricity sector using Spain’s power system as a case study. Spain has an ambitious decarbonization target and a large installed base of pumped hydro. We conduct our analysis looking out to the projected load in 2030 and alternative portfolios of low-carbon generation capacity operated to meet that load. Our analysis will show how the existing capacity of pumped hydro improves the utilization of all low-carbon generation sources, including solar PV, wind, and also nuclear, while decreasing the dispatch of natural gas-fired generation and therefore greenhouse gas emissions. We then evaluate the impact of additional investment in pumped hydro storage and how this impact varies as low-carbon sources become an even larger share of the system. Our results demonstrate that the expanding scale of low-carbon generation warrants additional investments in pumped hydro.