Nature and people first


New potential for Pumped Storage Hydropower

Independance in the area of energy storage

Competitive, clean and job-creating solution



Denis Payre

Denis Payre is a French entrepreneur. He launched Nature and People First in 2015. Prior to that, he co-founded Business Objects and Kiala, two innovative, fast-growing companies with wide international recognition and products currently available globally from giants SAP and UPS. He has also co-founded not-for-profit organization "Croissance Plus" to promote a better enviuronnment for fast growing companies and has funded and coached numerous startups. He is an Essec Business School graduate.


Nature & People First is a development company for energy storage projects:

  • It reinvents the well-known and well proven Pumped Storage Hydropower process (PSH) also called Pumped Storage.
  • It is active in the French islands where it offers Low Impact Community Scale Pumped Storage solutions as an alternative to diesel-fired peaking plants or as an alternative to the use of batteries.
  • The three largest French Islands (Guadeloupe, Martinique, Réunion) will require between 1,060 MW and 1,800 MW of energy storage by 2030 according to National Energy Research Center Ademe *.
  • Nature and People First is active in the US in the Rocky Mountains Region where our Low Impact Community Scale solution in ski areas offers local utilities an alternative to gas-fired peaking plants or batteries. The company is also investigating large closed-loop PSH sites in semi-arid regions in the Southwest.
  • It is committed to hiring 25% of staff working on construction sites coming from long term unemployment.

* from Energy Autonomy, May 2019.



For its first French project, Nature & People First has a partnership with a leading French infrastructure investment fund:

Meridiam is an independent French company based in Paris, specializing in the development, financing and management of long-term public infrastructure projects. Founded in 2005, Meridiam invests in public infrastructure in Europe, North America and Africa.

  • 300 employees
  • 80 projects
  • 8 billion euros under management



Solar and wind energies are expanding fast. They are renewable and clean but do not generate energy constantly. Their variations are unpredictable and do not correspond to electricity consumption curves. They create risks of instability for the grid if there is no energy or if there is too much energy. Energy storage allows electrical networks to absorb excess energy and dispatch it when it is needed, rather than "ramping" generation or adding "peakers" to meet varying demand.

storage solutions

Storing energy makes it possible to compensate for the intermittent nature of these renewable energies.

Various storage methods are currently in use inclucing batteries, compressed air, large conventional PSH systems and even hydrogen production processes.

Pumped Storage Hydropower
or pumped storage site

Pumped Storage Hydropower (PSH) was invented more than a century ago. Water is pumped to an elevated reservoir, then used to drive a turbine-generator during periods of high electricity demand.

Working principle

Pumped Storage Hydropower

The process involves two reservoirs filled with water and separated by elevation change of several hundred feet or more. They are connected by a penstock, a pipe.

When there is excess energy, for example solar energy produced by photovoltaic plants that operate at full capacity in the middle of the day, water will be pumped from the lower reservoir to the upper reservoir.

At the end of the day, when the sun goes down and there is a consumption peak because people go home and turn on many electrical devices (oven, television, lighting ...) water will be released from from the upper reservoir to the lower reservoir and will drive a hydroelectric turbine. Between 70% and 80% of the energy stored will be recovered thanks to this process.


Pumped storage

Pumped Storage Hydropower (PSH) provides 94% of the world's energy storage. PSH sites are typically in the 250 MW to 1 GW range.*

* according to the International Hydro Association.

There are only few large sites still available. Many existing PSH installations use rivers as one or both of their reservoirs but this is no longer environmentally acceptable.
Nature & People First is reinventing and rescaling PSH, vastly increasing the number of potential sites. Sites are possible from 800 feet of elevation change.
Low Impact Community Scale Pumped Storage has three key differences from traditional PSH. Projects can be located in a wider range of sites and can be approved and built more quickly and less expensively.

The following are the three key features of Low Impact Community Scale Pumped Storage:

1 / Small units (2 to 20 MW) with significant elevation change:

  • A limited footprint helps obtain quicker approval. Reservoirs are the size of small irrigation reservoirs or of snow making ponds, between 5 and 10 Million Gallons, with a foot print per reservoir of 4 to 8 acres.
  • The cost of interconnection to power grid is low. The small size makes it possible to be close to electricity consumption areas and therefore close to main sub stations.
  • Construction costs are reasonable because they are based on standard commercial off-the-shelf products (pumps, turbines, pipes, etc.) and based on conventional construction techniques.

2 / Closed loop systems and not on the run of a river

  • Water is not consumed and most often comes from underground.
  • Water is necessary only for initial filling of the lower reservoir and to compensate for evaporation.

3 / Multi use of reservoirs to maximize land use and ease acceptance:

  • Floating photovoltaic panels on part of the reservoirs.
  • Tanks in part or in whole under new or existing objects:
    • Mountain restaurants, car parks, sports fields, warehouses, roads, buildings ...
    • Tanks can be buried, partially buried or on the surface depending on the terrain and aesthetic requirements and integration with other facilities.
    • Patents in 13 countries
  • Secondary function possible for tanks: fire fighting, irrigation, heat or cold generation by heat pump, free cooling ...

The potential sites and site features for successful implementation of Low Impact Community Scale PSH:

  • Island areas with elevation change.
  • Ski areas:
    • Significant elevation change available.
    • Areas already developed with snow making reservoirs.
    • Powerful substations.
    • Stability issues at the end of the line.
    • A 12 MW Powerplant in each of the 352 ski areas in France:
      Potential of 4.2 GW - Possiblity to double the French PSH capacity.

Ongoing project

Site of Habitation Périnelle in Martinique

located in a 750 acres banana plantation in Saint Pierre.

  • 1,180 feet of vertical drop with land controlled by a single owner.
  • Two reservoirs under the form of excavated ponds of 7.7 million gallons each for 4 hours of operation.
  • Hydroelectric and pumping station of less than 10,000 square feet.
  • Total foot print with the embankments of about 10 acres.
  • Development of 50 acres of agricultural land thanks to the Low Impact Community Scale PSH site.
  • The embankments will be replanted. Minimal visual impact of bodies of water.
  • 1.5 mile long penstock most often buried.
  • Abundance of water in the aquifer. 26 feet of rain per year on Mount Pelée.
  • Capacity of 7 MW over 4 hours, or 28 MWh, likely operation 1 hour in the morning, 3 hours in the evening.
  • Primary reserve and inertia services in addition to arbitrage, to help stabilize the network.
  • Management by EDF.
  • 1.5 MWp floating photovoltaic plant.

Possibility of supplying 28 MWh to 31,500 inhabitants, or 8% of the population of Martinique.
This project replaces the use of an diesel-fired power station.

High acceptability:

  • Total visible footprint of less than 10 acres.
  • Planned extension of the plantation's irrigation system thanks to the income from the project: 50 additional acres, 7 new full-time jobs.
  • During the construction phase, more than 100 people employed for 2 years locally, 25% of whom were unemployed for an extended period of time before that. Substantial activity for engineering firm and equipment manufacturers in metropolitan France and the rest of Europe.
  • The addition of a floating solar power plant on the reservoirs will maximize land use and help Martinique achieve its objectives of deploying photovoltaic power plants. It also helps limit evaporation.
  • Reliable and clean solution, no toxic waste, no dependence on rare materials from a limited number of countries, no dependence on China.
  • Lifespan of 60 to 100 years. Perfect visibility on costs.
  • Contributes to the energy autonomy of the island required by law for 2030. Guarantees energy sovereignty.
  • Providing primary reserve and inertia to the grid to help avoid black outs.
  • Tax savings for the community:
    • A technical and economic survey by Compass Lexecon made it possible to evalute the benefits of the services offered: arbitrage, primary reserve, inertia.
    • Very favorable results: between € 40M and € 565M in savings compared to using diesel-fired power plants with reasonable renewable energy deployment scenarios, without assuminng the closure of diesel-fired plants which would create even more value.
    • Costs comparable to batteries using 19 surveys on further cost decrease over the next 20 years.
  • 31.500 inhabitants will benefit from this clean energy
  • 1181 feet elevation change between the 2 reservoirs
  • 7 megawatts over 4 hours or 28 Mwh
  • 100 jobs for 2 years, including 25% of former long duration unemployed persons
  • 40 to 565 M€ tax savings over the life time of the project
  • 50 acres additional irrigated agricultural land thanks to project income and 7 new full-time jobs
  • 7 jobs new permanent

Promote social innovation as well as environmental innovation:

  • Construction: 25% of the workforce come from disadvantaged backgrounds
  • Part of the profits allocated to local social projects


  • France

    Nature and People First, SAS
    140 bis rue de Rennes
    75006 Paris France

  • USA

    Nature and People First America, LLC
    405 Waltham Street
    Lexington, MA 02421