The Hoover dam was finished in 1935 and started lighting up Los Angeles (including Hollywood), Las Vegas and several other cities in Southern California. Eight decades later, another gargantuan power project is being proposed to keep the lights shining for decades to come, this time using wind energy.
The Southern California Public Power Authority, the utility serving Los Angeles and nine other cities Southern California, is looking for power to keep up with increasing demand in its franchise area which also complies with state requirements for renewable energy. In response, four energy companies are planning to join hands to build a massive wind farm, coupled with transmission lines and an equally huge energy storage facility.
The project will consist of a 2,100 MW wind farm in Chugwater, Wyoming, an 845-kilometer transmission line from the wind farm to Utah, and an energy storage facility using compressed air in Utah. Because of the scale of the project, its components will be undertaken by a separate company. Pathfinder Renewable Wind Energy is the developer of the US$4B wind farm. Duke- American Transmission, a joint venture of Duke Energy Corp. and American Transmission Co., will erect the US$2.6B transmission lines that will link the wind farm with the energy storage project in Delta, Utah. It is there where a Dresser-Rand facility will inject air into salt caverns underground to store power. From here, power will be transmitted to Los Angeles via an existing 784-kilometer transmission line. The transmission line between the wind farm and the energy storage facility is expected to be completed in 2023.
The scale of the project is so massive that it might as well be wind power’s equivalent of the Hoover Dam. However, while the nameplate capacity is around the same, the power expected to be produced at this combined wind power and storage facility is expected to be double that generated at the dam. From 1999 to 2008, the average production at Hoover Dam’s three power generators was 4.2 GW-hrs, while that expected to be produced by the project upon its completion is 9.2 GW-hrs.
That is not just a lot of hot air, that is the reality of wind’s power using the latest technologies, including advances in large scale wind energy storage. We are so looking forward to this becoming a reality before the Hoover Dam turns 90.