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China’s Fengning Pumped Storage Power Station: World’s Largest “Power Bank”

BusinessIndustriesChina's Fengning Pumped Storage Power Station: World's Largest "Power Bank"

Nestled in the hills of Hebei province, China’s Fengning Pumped Storage Power Station has become the largest “power bank” in the world, capable of harnessing and storing energy from the grid, much like a power bank charges a phone. Two reservoirs, located at different elevations, allow the station to pump water from the lower reservoir to the higher one when there is excess energy in the grid. And when there is a surge in demand for electricity, the stored water is released to generate electricity, supplying power to about 500,000 households.

Over the past year, 28 power storage facilities using hydroelectricity, like the Fengning plant, were put into operation, totaling 8.8 million kW in installed capacity, according to the China Electricity Council. Pumped hydro, which makes up 77.6 percent of the country’s total power storage projects, saw its installed capacity reach 45.79 million kW by the end of 2022, ranking it as the world’s top power storage solution.

China’s power storage industry is experiencing rapid growth as the country moves towards a more sustainable energy mix with renewables taking up an increasing share. Lithium-ion batteries, a new type of power storage, are also seeing fast growth. The installed capacity of new energy storage projects put into operation nationwide reached 8.7 million kW by the end of 2022, with an average energy storage time of about 2.1 hours, an increase of over 110 percent from the end of 2021.

“Differing from fossil fuels, new energy power generation has higher requirements for the safe and stable operation of power systems. That’s because most new energies are intermittent resources, which undergo sudden and random fluctuations. This makes it difficult to realize stable and steady power generation. In addition, it presents challenges to grid stability, such as voltage fluctuations, during power transmission,” said Lin Boqiang, head of the China Institute for Studies in Energy Policy at Xiamen University in Fujian province.

As concerns about climate change and resource depletion grow, the focus of power generation is gradually shifting toward renewable energy resources, such as solar and wind. However, these modalities are intermittent and not always available when needed. The power storage systems being developed in China can store vast amounts of energy generated from renewable sources, making it possible to use clean energy even when the sun isn’t shining or the wind isn’t blowing. This will help mediate the intermittency issue and facilitate the widespread adoption of renewable energy. With massive wind and solar projects set to be installed in the Gobi Desert and other arid areas, the development of power storage is becoming more prominent in China.

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