This drawing provided by Energy Northwest shows what the Horn Rapids Solar, Storage and Training Project in Richland may look like.
In response to the study, Energy Northwest announced on February 26 that it would build a 20-acre four-megawatt solar array that will be paired with a one-megawatt battery energy storage system in North Richland batteries that will power as many as 600 Richland homes as soon as this summer. The project is expected to be the first commercial-scale development in Washington state to integrate both solar and battery storage into the state’s mix of hydro, nuclear, and wind generation. It will be located on Horn Rapids Road near the federal HAMMER training center, and be called the Horn Rapids Solar, Storage, and Training Project.
The E-3 study found that to replace the output of the existing Columbia Generating Station, with a combination of wind generation and storage that would operate reliably would require a large number of wind turbines. Because the wind does not blow reliably, 10 to 15 times the number of wind turbines would be needed than if the turbines consistently operated at full capacity. One of the issues with wind is that it typically peaks in Eastern Washington in the spring and fall, when demand for electricity for heating and cooling is lower. Although batteries are being developed to store energy, they are not yet available to hold large amounts of energy for significant time periods at a reasonable cost. Adding so many wind turbines, financed over time, would be expensive for electricity users, according to a study. It recommended operating Columbia Generating Station beyond 2043 to provide the same amount of on-demand electricity, as wind and battery systems would cost $1.35 billion less a year than the wind and battery storage option, according to the study.
A one-third scale mockup of NuScale’s SM R under development in Corvallis, Oregon
The E-3 study found that in order to ensure on-demand electricity needs without any gas or coal generation, small modular reactors (SMRs) should be part of the lowest cost generation package in addition to continued operation of Columbia Generating Station. Small modular reactors could be operated on-demand and would not replace renewables, like wind, but could support them to provide the most economical, clean electricity production.
While there are several excellent SMR designs, the one being developed by NuScale Power in Corvallis, Oregon is the farthest along in terms of development and regulatory approval. According to Energy and Environmental speaker and author Dr. James Conca, NuScale’s SMR is “walk-away safe, can’t melt down, can withstand any extreme weather, can’t be used for weapons, can load-follow renewables as well as gas, and never has to shut down, even to refuel. ”It’s the most reliable and resilient energy source ever designed, perfect for a low-carbon future. A feasibility study is now underway into the possible addition of a small reactor at the Columbia Generating Station, along with stakeholder outreach and engagement. The goal is to have a more firm idea of cost and an estimated schedule by the end of the year.
The study recommended that Energy Northwest explore the use of SMRs and relicensing the Columbia Generating Station when its license expires in 2043. The study showed that building SMRs reduces the cost of achieving a 100% electric sector greenhouse gas reduction by nearly $8 billion per year. SMRs are very cost effective because of the ability to turn them off and on or to modulate the amount of power they generate without emitting carbon.