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Underground Pumped Hydroelectric Storage Feasibility Study

All Contributors

Title: Underground Pumped Hydroelectric Storage: A Feasibility Study

Author: Eric Chaves, Syllable Technology and Design

Version: DRAFT 0.1.1

Published: (Not yet published. Draft 0 was released in August 2019)



This report discusses climate change and our growing need for energy storage. In particular, it discusses a particular technology called Underground Pumped Hydroelectric Storage.

As energy sources like wind and solar replace fossil fuels, energy generation will become more variable, and this is expected to drive an exponential growth in demand for energy storage.

This report argues that underground pumped hydro technology could provide plentiful energy storage at an affordable cost. Over a time frame of 40 years, this solution could be an order of magnitude cheaper than chemical battery solutions like Lithium Ion.

As cited below, recent studies have concluded that stationary energy storage demand is expected to grow exponentially and require $662 billion of investment over the next two decades. Our report advocates that underground pumped hydro could capture much of this market away from Lithium Ion battery installations. We suggest further exploration of underground pumped hydro technology. And we suggest immediate development of the technology on sites which may be deemed suitable for profitable installations.

Pitch Deck (draft for founder search)

  • Our company Terrament, is currently seeking a founder team to build UPHS. Here is our Pitch Deck Draft. If you know someone who would be a fit for our founder team, please reach out at

Words of Inspiration

We only get one home.
We only get one planet.
There’s no plan B.
— President Barack Obama

We’re the first generation to feel the impact of climate change.
We’re the last generation that can do something about it.
— President Barack Obama


The report is compiled using LaTeX. The LaTeX base file is underground-pumped-hydroelectric-storage-feasibility-study.tex. This compiles to a pdf file by the same which is gitignored. This file is then saved as report.pdf for releases.

To edit and compile the report, you will need to install some kind of LaTeX tool. I just use a plugin for sublime text editor. LaTeXTools: A LaTeX Plugin for Sublime Text 2 and 3

Project Goals

This report is currently a draft. It is produced by Syllable -- a technology and design shop in Brooklyn NY. We are technologists, but we do not have expertise in many of the fields discussed in this report. We hope to partner with field experts to further develop this report in order to properly publish it in the future. To do this, we are forming a company called Terrament.

We have multiple goals for this report:

  • To partner with field experts in order to further evolve this report and publish it.

  • To partner with companies interested in building underground pumped hydro technology. We are currently pursuing warm introductions to the following partners.

    • The Boring Company (Elon Musk and team): Relating to advanced tunnel boring technology.
    • ConsenSys (Joseph Lubin team): Relating to token-funded non-profit projects.
    • NY Green Bank. Relating to funding and partnerships.
    • SUNY State University of New York: Relating to funding and partnerships.
    • Senior-level Civil Engineers.
  • To raise funds in order to support further work in this area.

Corrections, Suggestions

Please send corrections and suggestions to Or if you do that git thang, feel free to fork-it-like-its-hot and open a pull request.


Some sections of this report have been temporarily redacted until we have more time to consult with advisors and consider protecting some proprietary knowledge.


Thanks for your interest and for supporting mission driven work!

— Syllable

Version History

[0.1.1] - DRAFT 2020-01-27

Edits and Additions

  • Made edits and added some more information, mostly about the duck curve and its implications for renewable energy.

[0.1.0] - DRAFT 2019-09-18


  • Correction: Corrected some energy units which were mis-labeled (the calculations were still correct)
  • Made many updates based on new research indicating that Li-ion batteries could last 20 years. See cited article: "A Wide Range of Testing Results on an Excellent Lithium-Ion CellChemistry to be used as Benchmarks for New Battery Technologies". These updates shifted some calculations in favor of Li-ion, though UPHS is still shown to be cheaper under all estimated sceneries.

[0.0.4] - DRAFT 2019-08-28


  • Correction: The cost of $2.5 trillion to transition to 80% wind and solar energy was previously stated as the cost for California alone. This is in fact the projected cost for all of the United States. This error was due to an initial mis-reading of the article: "The $2.5 trillion reason we can't rely on batteries to clean up the grid".
  • Other minor updates.

[0.0.3] - DRAFT 2019-08-13


  • Updates. Added Calculations for UPHS vs Li-ion.

[0.0.2] - DRAFT 2019-08-12


  • Added TOC, made edits, finished draft of report with conclusion.

[0.0.1] - DRAFT 2019-08-11


  • Initial Commit. Report mostly complete, but in need of editing.


Thanks goes to these wonderful people (emoji key):

Peter Croce


This project follows the all-contributors specification. Contributions of any kind welcome!


Underground Pumped Hydroelectric Storage, A Feasibility Study






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