Malcolm Turnbull, President of the International Hydropower Association (IHA), has penned a letter to UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, emphasizing the pivotal role of pumped storage hydropower (PSH) in achieving energy security. Turnbull's letter, dated March 12, 2024, underscores the importance of promoting long-duration electricity storage through a cap and floor scheme, welcoming the UK government's decision in this regard.

Turnbull highlights the substantial potential of the UK’s shovel-ready PSH projects, which collectively boast almost 7GW of capacity and over 135GWh of storage. If realized, these projects could increase the UK's energy storage capacity fivefold, significantly enhancing the nation's transition to zero-emission energy sources.

In the letter, Turnbull stresses the indispensability of pumped storage in ensuring an efficient and cost-effective shift to renewable energy. With wind and solar energy expected to dominate primary generation in the future, Turnbull asserts that nuclear power will serve as the only continuous zero-emission generation source. While wind and solar costs decline, their intermittency necessitates firming, a role often fulfilled by costly gas peakers or short-duration chemical batteries.

Drawing from his experience in addressing energy challenges during his tenure as Prime Minister of Australia, Turnbull references the importance of storage solutions, particularly pumped hydro, in mitigating issues arising from rapid renewable expansion. He cites the Snowy Hydro 2.0 project in Australia as a prominent example of effective pumped storage implementation.

Turnbull urges the UK government to expedite the implementation of the cap and floor scheme, advocating for the swift initiation of mature projects by early 2025 to boost investor confidence. Additionally, he recommends the introduction of soft targets for long-duration energy storage and calls for comprehensive electricity market reforms to ensure adequate remuneration for grid services provided by PSH projects.

Emphasizing the global significance of the UK's policy initiatives, Turnbull asserts that they could serve as a blueprint for other nations striving to achieve reliable and affordable decarbonized electricity grids. He pledges the support of the IHA in advancing these critical efforts.