For Minnesota utility, wind backed by hydro is ‘holy grail’

(Midwest Energy News, December 3, 2013)—Norway has been called the “battery” of northern Europe because of its huge potential to store energy in its hydro power facilities, which produce virtually all of the country’s electricity.

When generation ramps up at Danish wind farms, Norway can slow production at its hydro facilities, storing water in reservoirs to be released later when electricity is in shorter supply.

As much as 40 percent of Danish wind power is “stored” like this behind Norwegian hydro dams, according to a 2012 paper by Norwegian energy economist Johannes Mauritzen.

In northern Minnesota, an electric utility is proposing a 500 kV, cross-border transmission line that would let it tap Canadian hydropower under a similar arrangement.

Minnesota Power says the Great Northern Transmission Line would allow it to balance intermittent power from its North Dakota wind farms with dispatchable power from Manitoba hydro facilities.

“I think we here at Minnesota Power have coupled together what I like to call the holy grail of renewable resources,” said Dave McMillan, the utility’s executive vice president. Continue reading “For Minnesota utility, wind backed by hydro is ‘holy grail’”