Next up, he said, is to make arrangements with utilities or others interested in using the Montana facility to complement their own electricity generation.
"That's our last step before we're able to go under construction and start putting concrete and steel in the ground," Borgquist said.
The Gordon Butte Pumped Storage Hydro Project was first proposed in 2010 and is intended to make wind turbines and other renewable energy sources more reliable , by storing the electricity they produce until it's needed.
Described as a "hydro battery," it would use excess power produced by wind farms or other sources to pump water from a reservoir uphill to a second reservoir. The water would be released during periods of high electricity demand, turning hydropower turbines to generate power.
Water is the most commonly used source of renewable energy.
Many utilities use power plants fueled by natural gas to fulfill a similar role. They're needed to balance electricity across the power grid as demand rises and falls over time.A spokeswoman for Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners confirmed the firm's involvement in the project. Senior Partner Christian Skakkebaek said in a statement that pumped storage hydro "will be a key resource as the global transition to renewable energy continues to accelerate in states such as Montana."
Construction could take up to four years and require 300 to 400 workers, Borgquist said. Once the project is operational, it will have a permanent workforce of two- or three-dozen employees, he said.
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission issued a license for the facility in 2016. There are more than 20 gigawatts of pumped storage capacity across the U.S., according to the National Hydropower Association. An additional 31 gigawatts of capacity have been proposed, primarily in Western states, according to the association.
Pumped storage hydropower a 'game-changer'
Costa Rica went entirely renewable. Well, almost. The residents still drive gas-powered cars, but the electrical grid used 98% renewables for the year. That’s an incredible feat, and one that larger countries have been unable to accomplish. Of course, the smaller population and the pleasant temperatures have some effect but does little to dampen the accomplishment. Costa Rica has become a positive example to encourage larger nations to follow suit.
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Mitsubishi Hitachi Power Systems (MHPS) and Magnum Development, owner and operator of the only known “Gulf Coast” style domal-quality salt formation in the western US, have launched an initiative that will see the start of the development for the Advanced Clean Energy Storage (ACES) project in central Utah.