Environment

Helping Meet Washingtons 100% Renewable energy goals

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The Key to Combating Climate Change

Washington and the Pacific Northwest are pursuing aggressive strategies to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from electricity production, including the planned retirement of existing coal-fired power plants and reduced reliance on natural gas-fired generation serving the region. It is estimated that under current policies, as much as 8,000 megawatts (MW) of generation capacity will come offline by 2030.

Under Washington’s Clean Energy Transformation Act (CETA) utilities must supply Washington customers with electricity that is 100% renewable or carbon-free by 2045.

The successful integration of large amounts of wind and solar will increasingly depend on the ability to store large amounts of renewable energy on a daily basis so that it can be dispatched when and where it’s needed. Pumped Storage Hydro (PSH) is the most economical bulk energy storage solution that can address these challenges:

  • Storing renewable energy and absorbing over-generation: PSH facilities can store large amounts of energy for use when needed, a feature that is particularly valuable during periods of over-generation when renewable energy production exceeds demand.
  • Meeting peak demand: PSH resources are uniquely suited to releasing stores of renewable energy over long durations during periods of peak demand.
  • Capturing oversupply of solar: PSH can support the efficient storage of large amounts of solar energy for delivery to Washington and Oregon customers at times of peak demand.
  • Minimizing curtailment and transmission congestion: Renewable resources are often located in remote areas with limited transmission. When transmission lines become congested, renewable generation sources are forced to curtail their production. PSH acts as a buffer, optimizing the use of existing transmission lines and minimizing strain on the electrical grid, thereby reducing the need for upgrades.

In addition, PSH can provide most (if not all) of the grid reliability services currently provided by fossil fuel-fired power plants, such as primary frequency and voltage response. These ancillary services are critical to maintaining a reliable electricity grid. For these reasons, PSH is the best available bulk energy storage technology for supporting renewables integration.

Thinking of the future

Generating carbon-free hydroelectricity without building new dams

"Closed-loop” systems such as the Goldendale Energy Storage Project do not involve the construction of a new dam on a river. Rather, they rely on the construction of two reservoirs—a lower one and an elevated one—that recirculate water.

In October 2020, a dozen stakeholders from the environmental nonprofit sector and the energy industry—including Rye Development, American Rivers, American Whitewater and more—signed a joint agreement to address climate change “by both advancing the renewable energy and storage benefits of hydropower and the environmental and economic benefits of healthy rivers.” The agreement specifically calls out closed-loop storage projects as part of the solution.

Critical to helping Washington and the region meet renewable energy mandates

Our region will not be able to meet its clean energy and climate action goals without a massive amount of additional storage capacity, which the Goldendale Energy Storage Project can provide with minimal environmental impact. For more information on this specific topic, read the recent E3 report.

An increasing number of private companies are committing to rapidly and substantially cutting carbon emissions as a way to mitigate climate change.

As utilities move away from fossil fuel-powered electricity and toward renewable energy to meet increasing demand, they will rely on storage to “even out” their daily load. The Goldendale project will allow utility companies to store intermittent renewable energy (wind and solar) and use it when they need it most (when the sun is not shining and the wind is not blowing). Projects like this one will play a critical role in reducing carbon emissions while protecting rivers and creating family wage jobs.

President Biden has committed to rejoining the Paris Climate Accord and put the country on a sustainable path to achieve net-zero emissions no later than 2050. Hydropower and energy storage facilities will play a critical role in decarbonizing our nation’s electricity grid.

The Goldendale Energy Storage Project is considered a “Project of Statewide Significance” by the Washington State legislature due to its investment in environmental improvement and innovation activities.

A safe, equitable, and environmentally sound way to store and integrate carbon free sources of electricity. Supporting Washington's efforts to meet its clean energy goals.