By Gillian Flaccus. Courtesy of Associated Press.
A renewable energy plant in Oregon that combines solar power, wind power and massive batteries to store the energy generated there officially opened Wednesday as the first utility-scale plant of its kind in North America.
The project addresses a key challenge facing the utility industry as the U.S. transitions away from fossil fuels and increasingly turns to solar and wind farms for power. Wind and solar are clean sources of power, but utilities have been forced to fill in gaps when the wind isn’t blowing and the sun isn’t shining with fossil fuels like coal or natural gas.
At the Oregon plant, massive lithium batteries store up to 120 megawatt-hours of power generated by the 300-megawatt wind farms and 50-megawatt solar farm so it can be released to the electric grid on demand. At maximum output, the facility can produce more than half of the power that was generated by Oregon’s last coal plant, which was demolished earlier this month.