Solar and wind power are the leading sources of renewable energy generation. Combined with advanced battery storage technology, their effectiveness has only increased. Rarely, however, are all three utilized together in one location.
In February, an Oregon utility and its partner announced a new project that will co-locate and integrate all three technologies in what is being described as the first of its scale in North America.
Portland General Electric Co. (PGE) and NextEra Energy Resources LLC will construct the Wheatridge Renewable Energy Facility in Eastern Oregon.
The solar farm will be one of the largest in Oregon. The battery storage facility will be the largest in Oregon and one of the largest in the country.
Wheatridge will be located just north of Lexington, Ore., in Morrow County. The 120 wind turbines will provide 300 megawatts (MW) of wind generation, combined with 50 MW of solar generation and 30 MW of battery storage.
Development of Wheatridge will provide up to 300 jobs during construction of the wind site and up to 175 jobs during construction of the solar and storage sites. The wind component of the facility will be operational by December 2020. Construction of the solar and battery components is planned for 2021.
Approximately 10 full-time employees will operate the combined facilities once they're commissioned for service.
Describing their actions as "moving aggressively to integrate smart grid technologies and renewable energy,” Maria Pope, PGE president and CEO, said Wheatridge will be “a model for integrating renewable generation and storage” in a cost-effective manner.
The new facility, combined with PGE's existing resources, will bring the company's wind generation portfolio to a total of more than 1,000 MW, which is enough power to serve 340,000 homes. With the addition of these new renewable resources, PGE expects to meet about 50 percent of its customers' power needs with emissions-free generation.