Is pumped storage crucial to wind energy development in Colorado?
No, it actually sets back renewable energy development. Conventional thinking is that pumped storage must be increased as intermittent energy sources like wind and solar increase, because they may not always be available at times of peak electricity demand. Like pumped storage technology itself, this thinking is outdated.
Over 36,000 MW of wind generation has already been added to the US power grid yet no new pumped storage has been needed. Advances in technology will continue to allow the power grid to absorb even more more intermittent and renewable energy for the foreseeable future. Technologies being deployed for smart grids are able to effectively balance both peak loads and intermittent sources, with out the massive energy waste and environmental footprint of pumped storage. These and other factors are evidenced in the US energy plans for both conventional and renewable energy. The Department of Energy projections call for zero growth of new pumped storage.