Project developers Grasslands Renewable Energy proposed a system that would link up 3,000MW worth of wind farms, ironing out the intermittency with energy storage systems to provide a constant 1,000MW output of clean “baseload” energy.
The company, a joint venture between Rocky Mountain Power Inc. and Absaroka Energy LLC, said yesterday that the ten wind developers who have signed letters of intent to join the project account for more than 3,000MW of potential generating capacity.
As well as pledging intent to join, the wind developers have contributed funding to the Wind Spirit Project, Grasslands said.
One of the wind developers signing up was Windmaker Energy, part of Whitefish-based Mother’s Power Inc. Its managing partner Jeff Arcel said: “Montana and the surrounding region have some of the best wind resources in the nation. The Wind Spirit Project’s unique and innovative business model will allow wind developers from diverse geographic areas to work together in new ways to fully realize our potential.”
State Governor Brian Schweitzer has backed the project, saying: “Montana can and will lead our nation in wind energy development. But until we solve our transmission constraint problems, little of this great resource will be developed. The project proposed by Grasslands Renewable Energy is an important first step in ensuring quality energy jobs for Montanans and clean energy for America.”
As well as wind farms in Montana, the Wind Spirit project could link in with wind projects in North Dakota, Alberta and Saskatchewan.
Grasslands has said it will rely on proven and new storage systems to store energy for release when the wind isn’t blowing. It is looking into technologies including pumped storage hydro projects, which uses electricity to pump water into a reservoir where it can drive turbines to generate electricity when needed.
The company is also investigating battery and compressed air energy storage technologies.