Oregon utility plans first combined wind-solar-storage facility in US

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Oregon utility and US energy company announced this week plans to develop the United States’ first major energy facility which would co-locate wind, solar, and battery storage.

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Oregon utility Portland General Electric Company and US energy company NextEra Energy Resources announced this week plans to develop the United States’ first major energy facility which would co-locate wind, solar, and battery storage.

Portland General Electric (PGE) and NextEra announced on Tuesday the new project, called the Wheatridge Renewable Energy Facility, which will combine 300MW of wind generation, 50MW of solar generation, and 30MW of battery storage. This will be the first project to co-locate and integrate all three technologies at this scale in North America.

Not only will this be the largest co-location of these three technologies, the solar facility will be one of the largest in Oregon and the battery storage will be the largest in Oregon and one of the largest in the United States.

Further, with this project, PGE increases its nameplate wind energy capacity to over 1GW and now expects to be able to meet approximately 50% of its customers’ needs with renewable electricity.

“We’re moving aggressively to integrate smart grid technologies and renewable energy to give customers affordable, clean, low-carbon energy,” said Maria Pope, PGE president and CEO.

“Wheatridge will be a model for integrating renewable generation and storage to cost-effectively reduce emissions while maintaining a reliable grid.”

“Portland General Electric’s decision to join with NextEra Energy Resources in constructing the Wheatridge Renewable Energy Facility provides both a well-earned economic boost to Eastern Oregon and an important step on our country’s needed path to green energy,” said US Senator Ron Wyden, who has supported the project from its inception.

“I am proud to have worked with Morrow County and all the local officials who teamed up in the ‘Oregon Way’ spirit of finding solutions to make sure this homegrown renewable energy project could achieve this milestone.”

The project will consist of 120 wind turbines supplied by GE Renewable Energy, while the specific equipment to be used for the solar and storage facilities are yet to be determined.

Located just north of Lexington, Oregon, in Morrow County, the project is expected to provide up to 300 jobs during construction of the wind site and up to 175 jobs during construction of the solar and storage sites.

PGE will own 100 MW of the wind project and will secure the remaining 200 MW from NextEra Energy Resources through a 30-year Power Purchase Agreement (PPA). Completion of the wind project is expected for December 2020 while construction of the solar and storage sites is planned for 2021.

“We’re pleased to work with Portland General Electric on the Wheatridge Renewable Energy Facility, an exciting opportunity to combine wind, solar and energy storage,” said Armando Pimentel, president and CEO of NextEra Energy Resources, the world’s largest generator of renewable energy from the wind and the sun.

“This venture will allow PGE’s customers to benefit from more renewable energy over more hours of the day and create substantial economic value for the communities that host this project, many of whom stand to benefit for years to come.”

Co-locating renewable energy sources with battery storage is expected to increase over the coming years, as developers begin to make the most of falling technology costs and utilise the benefits that come from generating electricity from multiple renewable sources.

Solar generation relies on daylight hours, whereas wind energy relies on the wind blowing – which do not necessarily overlap – while battery storage can account for times when neither the sun is shining, or the wind is blowing.

Declining technology costs make this sort of co-location incredibly attractive due to the increased reliability of generation and supply which can be achieved at or below market parity.

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