EnXco, Riverbank Partnering
by Christina Williams
A partnership struck this month between EnXco and Riverbank Power is poised to add new life to the development of grid-scale pumped storage -- a way to store power for the grid that provides a backup to intermittent power sources such as wind energy.
EnXco, which has a regional development office in Portland and is owned by EDF Energies Nouvelles Company, will lend its engineering and project-development expertise to Riverbank Power for the development of as many as 17 pumped storage projects in the Northwest.
Among the first on the list, according to reporting by the Herald and News, is a $2 billion project north of Klamath Falls, Swan Lake Hydro North, which has a license application on file with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.
Grid-scale energy storage is often referred to as the "missing link" for renewable energy development as the ability to store power during times of peak demand would help out with the peaks and valleys of intermittent power sources. Pumped storage is a promising grid-scale energy storage technology for the Northwest where hydro and wind power resources exist side by side.
Pumped storage involves the development of hydro reservoirs that store energy by pumping water from a lower reservoir during times when power isn't needed on the grid. When need on the grid returns, stored water is released to flow downhill through a turbine to produce power.
Last year Gridflex Energy LLC told Sustainable Business Oregon about three pumped storage projects it had planned for Oregon. Calls to Gridflex for an update on those projects were not immediately returned. The permitting process for pumped storage project development is lengthy.
Sandi Briner, EnXco's spokeswoman, said the partnership with Riverbank Power, announced Feb. 15, represents the first foray for EnXco into the pumped storage space.
"Our interest is in the Pacific Northwest," Briner said. "And this is a technology that needs to be evaluated for how this way to store power from intermittent power sources."
Briner said EnXco and Riverbank, which has offices in Idaho, Utah, Toronto and Portland, have yet to determine which pumped storage projects will be most viable.
"This joint venture represents a much-needed catalyst to continue renewable power development in North America," said John Douglas, CEO and president of Riverbank, in a statement.
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