Pumped Storage Is Having a Moment. Will It Shift Renewables?

A massive clean energy project that doesn’t rely on wind or solar could help solve some of California’s electricity challenges — if it can get built.

Nine years after first proposing the San Vicente Energy Storage Facility, the city of San Diego and the San Diego County Water Authority announced in January that they were in talks with a private developer to advance the hydroelectric pumped storage project, which would be constructed northeast of the city.

The development is an example of what the hydropower industry hopes will be a tipping point for one of the oldest sources of renewable energy, even as some analysts and environmentalists remain skeptical of whether the challenges for water power can be overcome.