Golder, Nelson Energy Win Pumped-Storage Hydropower FAST Prize

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Water Power Technologies Office (WPTO) announced that a team from Golder, a specialized global engineering firm, and Nelson Energy, a successful developer of hydroelectric projects, was one of the four prize winners for innovative solutions in the DOE’s FAST (Further Advancements to Shorten Time) Commissioning for Pumped Storage Hydropower competition.

For the winning submission, “The Use of Modern TBMs for Underground Pumped Storage Hydroelectric (UPSH) Projects,” Golder developed conceptual designs for the use of tunnel boring machines (TBMs) to excavate the underground reservoir, access tunnels and powerhouse. This technology can decrease excavation time by 50% and reduce costs over conventional drill-and-blast excavation.

Conventional underground pumped hydroelectric storage requires mountainous range for economical development. “This new concept has great potential in areas where there is excess clean energy, particularly solar and wind power, but no mountainous terrain to build surface dams and reservoirs for conventional pumped storage projects,” said Richard Humphries, Senior Consultant with Golder.

This was the first FAST Commissioning for Pumped-Storage Hydropower competition. The goal of the competition is to highlight new solutions, designs, and strategies to accelerate PSH development by reducing the time, cost and risk to commission. PSH is an essential energy storage technology for the U.S. electrical grid and plays an important role in increasing the integration of renewable resources like wind and solar.

Out of nine finalists, the Golder/Nelson team is one of four FAST grand prize winners receiving up to $550,000 in vouchers and cash prizes. The prize will help to advance PSH concepts, improve construction and manufacturing processes, and standardize equipment. The FAST Prize is funded by the WPTO and administered by National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL).

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