The US’s first utility-scale renewable energy triple threat is online in Oregon

The US’s first utility-scale renewable energy triple threat is online in Oregon

What’s better than just one type of clean electricity? A triple threat of technologies coming together to bring renewable energy to the grid. The first utility-scale facility that combines solar, wind and battery storage opened last week and began providing power in northern Oregon. Between 300 megawatts of wind, 50 megawatts of solar, and 30 megawatts of battery storage, the triple-powered project can power around 100,000 homes using clean energy.

The project, Wheatridge Renewable Energy Facilities, is co-owned NextEra Energy Resources, LLC ,, and Portland General Electric .

Wind energy and solar energy work well together due to their opposite power hours. The sunniest hours and night are when wind is strongest, while the sunniest hours of the day are when it is weakest. The battery storage is a key component of this system, as it provides some cushion for the intermittent solar and wind energy. All that storage means energy can be harnessed at will, even when the sun or wind are not around.

Before passage of the Inflation Reduction Act , solar energy projects that included storage were largely stuck with solar because “energy storage was only Incentivized Under the Tax Code when it was directly and solely associated with a solar project,” Gregory Wetstone (president and CEO, American Council on Renewable Energy) told Utility Diive . The passage of the massive climate bill has opened up the possibility for battery projects to be integrated with other renewables.

[Related: Scientists think we can get 90 percent clean energy by 2035. ]

In 2007, Oregon set emissions reductions targets at 10 percent below 1990 levels by 2020 and 75 percent below 1990 levels by 2050, and the governor ordered even tighter targets in 2020. Emissions targets for energy delivered to retail customers are ambitious: emissions must be reduced by at least 80 percent by 2030, 90 by 2035 and 100 percent by 2040.

But they are getting there–in 2020, 68 percent of utility-scale electricity generation was from renewables, according to the US Energy Information Administration. This project is a major step forward for NextEra and PGE.

“By supporting new projects like Wheatridge we continue to accelerate the renewable energy solutions for state, communities, and customers while maintaining reliability, affordability and affordability,” Maria Pope (president and CEO of Portland General Electric) stated in an press release “This partnership is a technological milestone in decarbonizing the system and making clean energy available to all Oregonians .”

Projects incorporating wind, sun, and battery storage are rare even in the United States. One such project just came online in March in the Netherlands, and projects in Australia and the UK are underway. With climate policy being reintroduced across the country, there will hopefully be more renewable energy group-ups in future.

Sara Kiley Watson

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