274-276 Wickham Road, Highett, VIC 3190 Australia


The New Emerging Growth Market for Geomembranes in Pumped-Storage Hydroelectricity


By GNA Editor | 4th September 2023


The growing demand for sustainable energy solutions has spurred innovation in the field of renewable energy storage. Pumped-storage hydroelectricity (PSH) has emerged as a promising method for efficiently storing and generating electricity. A critical component of PSH systems is the use of geomembranes to ensure the integrity and efficiency of water containment within the reservoirs. This article delves into the role of geomembranes in the emerging market of pumped-storage hydroelectricity, highlighting their benefits, challenges, and significance in ensuring the success of these energy storage facilities.

Pumped-Storage Hydroelectricity Overview

Pumped-storage hydroelectricity is a versatile energy storage technique that leverages the potential energy stored in water. During periods of low energy demand, surplus off-peak electricity is utilized to pump water from a lower reservoir to a higher reservoir. When electricity demand spikes, the stored water is released back to the lower reservoir through turbines, generating electricity. This method effectively balances the supply and demand of energy, contributing to grid stability and renewable energy integration.

The Role of Geomembranes

Geomembranes are synthetic waterproofing materials designed to prevent water seepage and leakage in various applications, including reservoirs, canals, and landfill liners. In pumped-storage hydroelectricity systems, geomembranes play a pivotal role in maintaining the integrity of the water containment structures, ensuring efficient operation and minimizing environmental risks.

Construction of pumped storage schemes is increasing in many European countries and around the world to implement/backup the energy production from windmills. To ensure efficient and safe operation, the storage reservoirs must be watertight and maintain watertightness over time. Traditional waterproofing solutions like concrete and bituminous concrete linings need periodical and/or accidental maintenance that may have significant impact on operation of the scheme.

A viable alternative, based on well-proven systems adopted for new construction and rehabilitation of dams and reservoirs, is to use impervious flexible geomembranes, generally Polyvinylchloride (PVC) composite membranes embedding a backing geotextile for anti-puncture protection, which can be installed on fairly uneven base layers, reducing surface preparation. Several anchorage systems are available to maintain the liner taut to the surface under varying water level and against wind uplift.

The advantages of a geomembrane system in pumped storage schemes are numerous: the geomembrane can be installed on very steep/vertical slopes unattainable with a bituminous concrete facing; being all components prefabricated and their assembly controlled at site by standardised methods, watertightness at completion of works can be checked, and monitored over service; installation times are much shorter and practically independent of weather conditions, cost advantage can be significant; one guarantee covers design, materials and installation; no maintenance needed, watertightness maintained for several decades; accidental damage can be repaired even underwater, no outage of scheme; with > 230 % 3-dimensional elongation a geomembrane liner can resist settlements/differential movements at concrete appurtenances that would cause failure of a bituminous concrete liner or a concrete facing.

Challenges and Design Considerations

Pumped storage reservoirs undergo frequent filling and emptying cycles, exposing geomembranes to various challenges, including wind uplift, cyclic forces, and ultraviolet radiation. The geomembranes used in these applications must be highly stable against thermal and UV oxidation to withstand the demanding operational conditions.

Advantages of Geomembrane SystemS

The use of geomembrane systems offers several advantages for pumped-storage hydroelectricity facilities:

  1. Installation Flexibility: Geomembranes can be installed on steep or vertical slopes that would be impractical for traditional materials like bituminous concrete.
  2. Prefabrication and Quality Control: All components are prefabricated, allowing for standardized assembly methods and rigorous quality control, ensuring watertightness during construction and service.
  3. Shorter Installation Times: Geomembranes can be installed quickly, regardless of weather conditions, leading to shorter project timelines and potential cost savings.
  4. Long-Term Watertightness: Geomembrane systems require minimal maintenance and can maintain watertightness for several decades, enhancing the reliability and longevity of the hydroelectric facility.
  5. Accidental Damage Repair: Geomembranes can be repaired underwater, reducing downtime and the need for facility shutdowns.
Economic and Environmental Impact

As the demand for renewable energy sources continues to rise, the construction of pumped-storage schemes increases worldwide. Geomembrane systems offer a sustainable solution that contributes to the efficient and reliable operation of pumped-storage hydroelectric facilities. Their use reduces the need for periodic maintenance and accidental repair, minimizing downtime and optimizing the economic benefits of these energy storage systems.


The emerging growth market for geomembranes in pumped-storage hydroelectricity presents a transformative solution to the challenges associated with water containment in energy storage reservoirs.

By offering benefits such as installation flexibility, long-term watertightness, and efficient repair capabilities, geomembranes contribute to the success and sustainability of pumped-storage hydroelectric facilities.

As the world continues to transition towards renewable energy sources, the role of geomembranes in maintaining the integrity of energy storage infrastructure becomes increasingly critical, ensuring a reliable and stable energy supply for generations to come.

Related Posts