Extensive new storage is necessary for the expansion of variable wind and solar (VRE) resources on which the transition to a net-zero carbon economy depends. California, for example, has more storage capacity than any other state in the country, and yet by 2030, as both its decarbonization mandates kick in and its fossil fuel facilities retired, a huge expansion of new capacity will be needed, namely, over 150 times the amount of storage that has been developed over the last decade. The longer the storage capacity to dispatch energy continuously, the less need and accelerated replacement for carbon-emitting and economically inefficient natural gas peaking plants. At the same time, long-duration storage reduces annual curtailment of VRE production, e.g., a 40% increase in MWh storage capacity reduces annual VRE curtailment across the 2045 base case year relative to a case without long-duration storage. Briefly put, CCEW is utility-scaled to allow for significant VRE expansion, drastically reducing VRE resource curtailment, and the ability to react quickly to blackout.  Wind & solar vary constantly.  CCEW reacts simultaneously to these levels of fluctuation and absorbs or load follows accordingly.  In four words, it will help “keep the lights on” in the transition to an electricity-generating carbon-free environment as no comparable facility, in operation or in an advanced stage of development. CCEW acts much like a utility, supplying the needed service at the level required or requested.

In fact, “keeping the lights on” requires more than the ability to compensate for the intermittent character of wind and solar generation resources. The three primary attributes:

  • Resource Adequacy: the ability to meet the demand for electricity under all but the most unlikely circumstances. The Resource Adequacy of PSH facilities has been demonstrated time and again over the last 100 years. Hydropower has been and remains the default option of utility dispatchers faced with meeting unexpected demands for power. In its pumped-hydro mode, it currently provides more than 95% of the electricity storage available in this country and around the world. To the extent that it is off-stream as well (OS-PSH), it avoids the ecological problems of conventional PSH as well.
  • Full Capacity Flexibility:the ability to supply power in a time-required way, CCEW’s scale and state-of-the-art technology afford an unprecedented ability to respond flexibly to the demand for power. Among many such attributes, its unique and unconventional power quality management allows for instantaneous reaction times to grid events for its 870 MW of rated interconnection capacity, its ternary-designed generators allow for following variable loads in less than 5 seconds and ramping capabilities from 1 MW to full rated capacity in under 30 seconds, and provides full voltage support via hydraulic short circuit even in pure pumping mode.
  • Grid resiliency:the ability to withstand environmental and terrorist attacks on the facility. The below ground location of the hydro turbines provides a high degree of protection against physical attacks. In consultation with the Idaho National Laboratory, CCEW has explored a variety of other “hardening” measures. They include, but are not limited to, undergrounding on-site and off-site transmission systems to protect from the impact of electro-magnetic interference (EMI) and other forces, e.g., nuclear explosions or massive sunspot activity, and developing new-generation software to maximize the cyber-security of the facility.

But the driver of the CCEW Project is in its Inherent Value of simply being there when needed, when a new energy service is required, or when the transitory period demands a change in energy service which CCEW can provide seamlessly.  CCEW is the type of facility to placate those who simply do not believe you can get there from here.