Construction of what would be one of the world’s biggest energy storage facilities in Utah, along with one of America’s largest wind farms in Wyoming and an 840km (525 miles) electric transmission line connecting the two sites, are at the core of a proposal by four companies to bring clean energy to the Los Angeles area.
The four companies are Pathfinder Renewable Wind Energy, Magnum Energy, Dresser-Rand and Duke-American Transmission.
Describing the project as the 21st century’s Hoover Dam, Jeff Meyer, managing partner of Pathfinder Renewable Wind Energy, said it would be “a landmark of the clean energy revolution.”
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 MWh per year vs. 3.9 million MWh.
2,100MW wind farm
The US$4 billion, 2,100MW capacity wind farm would be built, owned and operated by Pathfinder Renewable Wind Energy near Chugwater in southeast Wyoming – an area with the strongest, sustained winds in the nation.
Compressed air energy storage
Storage of the electricity from the wind farm would be in a new $1.5 billion compressed air energy storage system, which would be installed by Pathfinder Renewable Wind Energy, Magnum Energy and Dresser-Rand in unique underground salt domes at a site near Delta, Utah, 210km (130 miles) southwest of Salt Lake City.
Four vertical caverns carved out of the underground salt formation would be key components of the storage system. Each cavern would be about 400m (0.25 miles) in height, 90m (290 feet) in diameter and 1.16 million m3 (41 million cubic feet) in volume. The four caverns combined would store the energy equivalent of 60,000MWh of electricity.
During periods of low customer demand, the storage facility would use excess electricity from the Pathfinder wind farm to compress and inject high-pressure air into the caverns for storage.
During periods of high customer demand, the facility would use the stored, high-pressure compressed air, combined with a small amount of natural gas, to power eight generators that would produce electricity.
Electric transmission line
The Wyoming wind farm’s electricity would be transported to the Utah energy storage facility with a US$2.6-billion 840km (525 miles) high-voltage electric transmission line proposed by Duke-American Transmission.
The transmission line – a shorter alternative to Duke-American Transmission’s previously proposed 1,370km (850-mile) Zephyr transmission project – would traverse Wyoming, Colorado and Utah, with a target in-service date of 2023.
A separate, existing 790km (490-mile) transmission line – traversing Utah, Nevada and California – would transport electricity from the Utah energy storage facility to the Los Angeles area.
The four companies 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.