The $8 billion project would be the first of its kind in the US and would link one of the nation’s largest wind farms to one of the world’s largest energy storage facilities.
Four companies have jointly proposed to develop an $8 billion green energy initiative that would provide large amounts of clean electricity to the Los Angeles area by 2023. This would require the construction of one of America’s largest wind farms, in Wyoming. It would also require one of the world’s largest energy storage facilities, to be built in Utah, and a 525-mile electric transmission line connecting the two sites.
“This project would be the 21st century's Hoover Dam - a landmark of the clean energy revolution” said Jeff Meyer, managing partner of Pathfinder Renewable Wind Energy, one of the four companies involved in the initiative. “The proposed project would generate more than twice the amount of electricity produced by the giant 1930s-era hydroelectric dam in Nevada - 9.2 million megawatt-hours per year vs. 3.9 million megawatt-hours.”
The massive underground energy storage facility would yield 1,200MW of electricity, equivalent to the output of a large nuclear power plant and enough to serve 1.2 million homs in the LA area. It would also help to solve one of the sector’s biggest challenges – intermittency. Linking the wind farm to the energy storage facility would allow it to function like a conventional energy plant, such as a coal, nuclear or gas power facility.
The four companies - Pathfinder Renewable Wind Energy, Magnum Energy, Dresser-Rand and Duke-American Transmission - will formally submit their proposal to the Southern California Public Power Authority by early 2015 in response to the agency's request for proposals to supply the Los Angeles area with renewable energy and electricity storage.
Pathfinder Renewable Wind Energy would build, own and operate the wind farm, to be located near Chugwater, Wyoming, 40 miles north of Cheyenne and capable of generating 2,100MW of electricity. Pathfinder Renewable Wind Energy, Magnum Energy and Dresser-Rand would install the $1.5-billion ‘compressed air energy storage’ system at a site near Delta, Utah, 130 miles southwest of Salt Lake City.
The key components of the storage system would be four vertical caverns carved from an underground salt formation. Each cavern would be around a quarter of a mile in height, 290 feet in diameter and 41 million cubic feet in volume. The four caverns combined would be able to store the energy equivalent of 60,000 MWh of electricity.
Duke-American Transmission has proposed to build the $2.6 billion, 525 mile, high-voltage electric transmission line that would transport the Wyoming wind farm’s electricity to the Utah energy storage facility. This would traverse Wyoming, Colorado and Utah and would be expected to enter service in 2023. A separate, existing 490 mile transmission line traversing Utah, Nevada and California would transport electricity from the Utah energy storage facility to the Los Angeles area.