UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Value of pumped storage systems in British Columbia van Groll, Jonathan


The need to establish electricity storage in British Columbia is brought by a regional and global shift towards the development of renewable electricity generation. The integration of renewable sources of power is challenging for system operators due to their inability to be dispatched. Energy storage enables a time lag between generation, transmission, and consumption. The unique characteristics of British Columbia, namely abundance of water and mountainous terrain, are well suited for the development of Pumped Hydro Storage (PHS). The goal of this thesis is to investigate the value of the integration of a PHS plant in the BC Hydro system at a high level of planning. BC Hydro’s Generalized Optimization Model, used for medium to long term planning, was modified to include PHS plants. The benefits of the PHS plant were considered as the incremental increase of the objective function of this optimization model compared to a base case. A method was developed to value PHS plants based on projected benefits and costs. A case study was performed using various configurations of PHS plants; including closed loop plants and one extension of an existing hydropower plant. Sensitivity analysis was performed to test the response of NPV over a number of inputs. As the capacity and storage of the closed loop plants increased, the usage also increased. Benefits were not uniform across the set of water years reflecting the characteristics of each year’s conditions and configuration of the BC Hydro system. The yearly benefit is highest for the extension of the existing hydropower plant. For the closed loop projects, the NPV is highest for the least amount of storage for each capacity. The NPV of all projects was most sensitive to the variation of construction costs. Complete cost recovery of these plants using revenues consisting of trade revenues and increased overall system is unlikely. Additional sources of benefits and revenue streams should be identified and included in future studies of PHS projects. This research can be extended to projects with more certain estimates of characteristics and costs.

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