This paper analyses the impacts and benefits of the pumped storage plant (PSP) and its upgrade to variable speed on generation and transmission capacity requirements, capital costs, system operating costs and carbon emissions in the future European electricity system. The combination of a deterministic system planning tool, Whole-electricity System Investment Model (WeSIM), and a stochastic system operation optimisation tool, Advanced Stochastic Unit Commitment (ASUC), is used to analyse the whole-system value of PSP technology and to quantify the impact of European balancing market integration and other competing flexible technologies on the value of the PSP. Case studies on the Pan-European system demonstrate that PSPs can reduce the total system cost by up to €13 billion per annum by 2050 in a scenario with a high share of renewables. Upgrading the PSP to variable-speed drive enhances its long-term benefits by 10–20%. On the other hand, balancing market integration across Europe may potentially reduce the overall value of the variable-speed PSP, although the effect can vary across different European regions. The results also suggest that large-scale deployment of demand-side response (DSR) leads to a significant reduction in the value of PSPs, while the value of PSPs increases by circa 18% when the total European interconnection capacity is halved. The benefit of PSPs in reducing emissions is relatively negligible by 2030 but constitutes around 6–10% of total annual carbon emissions from the European power sector by 2050.
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