A massive planned buildout of pumped storage hydropower in Eastern Asia, driven by China, would allow this region to single-handedly meet the International Renewable Energy Agency’s target of 420 gigawatts (GW) of pumped storage worldwide by 2050, according to research from Global Energy Monitor.
The new Global Hydropower Tracker, which catalogs 2,212 GW of hydropower globally with nearly 4,000 pumped storage, conventional and run-of-river hydropower projects of at least 75 megawatts (MW) or larger, shows that the Eastern Asia region has a total of 425 GW of pumped storage capacity operating and prospective – announced, in pre-construction, or in construction – 73% of the global total.
Pumped storage is a crucial component of the global energy transition, as the worldwide growth in variable renewable energy sources like wind and solar increases the need for energy storage solutions. Modeling by IRENA suggests that 420 GW of total installed pumped storage hydropower will be needed in order to allow the world to meet the Paris Agreement’s climate goals by 2050.
Of all operating hydropower projects with at least 75 MW of nameplate capacity, only 14% (161 GW) is accounted for by pumped storage, and the other 86% (967 GW) is conventional storage or run-of-river. But pumped storage makes up 49% (439 GW) of prospective capacity, indicating the rising importance of this technology type in the coming years relative to other types of hydropower.
According to the Global Hydropower Tracker, the top five countries with the most operating pumped storage hydropower are:
- China (51 GW, 30% of the global total)
- Japan (24 GW, 14% of the global total)
- United States (22 GW, 13% of the global total)
- Italy (8 GW, 5% of the global total)
- Germany (6 GW, 4% of the global total)
The top five countries with the most prospective pumped storage hydropower are:
- China (407 GW, 82% of the global total)
- India (16 GW, 3% of the global total)
- Australia (14 GW, 3% of the global total)
- United States (14 GW, 3% of the global total)
- United Kingdom (6 GW, 1% of the global total)