How does the South Slope pumped storage project fit the long term US energy picture?
It does not. The 2011 Annual Energy Outlook on Generating Capacity from the Department of Energy, lays out projections through 2035 for both renewable and conventional energy. No near term or long term increases in pumped storage plants are needed for United States' energy strategy.
The forty exisiting pumped storage plants in the US, combined with a wide range of generating capabilities, provide significant flexibility meeting peaks of energy demand, including the intermittent nature of wind power. In 2008 alone, the US added 8,500 MW of wind power, over 20 times the 400MW storage capabilty proposed for South Slope, without the need for any energy storage.
To build in even greater future flexibility, the DOE and power industry are aggressively pursuing advanced Smart Grid strategies to reduce emissions, improve efficiency, enhance reliability, and provide greater energy security and flexibility while accommodating new energy technologies, including renewable, intermittent and distributed point-of-use sources. As expected, the construction new pumped storage plants, which are based on century old designs, outdated technology and, waste massive amounts of energy, are not essential elements the energy future.
Existing pumped storage plants do not produce or save energy and will continue to consume significant energy from coal, nuclear and gas fueled plants. Some will be likely be upgraded with more efficient generating equipment over time, reducing the waste and energy drain on the nation's energy grid.