Also found in: Dictionary, Wikipedia.
A process, also known as hydroelectric storage, for converting large quantities of electrical energy to potential energy by pumping water to a higher elevation, where it can be stored indefinitely and then released to pass through hydraulic turbines and generate electrical energy. An indirect process is necessary because electrical energy cannot be stored effectively in large quantities. Storage is desirable, as the consumption of electricity is highly variable between day and night, between weekday and weekend, as well as among seasons. Consequently, much of the generating equipment needed to meet the greatest daytime load is unused or lightly loaded at night or on weekends. During those times the excess capability can be used to generate energy for pumping, hence the necessity for storage.
A typical pumped-storage development is composed of two reservoirs of essentially equal volume situated to maximize the difference in their levels. These reservoirs are connected by a system of waterways along which a pumping-generating station is located (see illustration). Under favorable geological conditions, the station will be located underground, otherwise it will be situated on the lower reservoir. The principal equipment of the station is the pumping-generating unit. In United States practice, the machinery is reversible and is used for both pumping and generating; it is designed to function as a motor and pump in one direction of rotation and as a turbine and generator in opposite rotation. See Electric power generation, Pumping machinery