Renewable energy | Ecotrope

Repine: For more renewable power, mix and match

Ecotrope | April 19, 2011 8:25 a.m. | Updated: Feb. 19, 2013 1:39 p.m.

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“I think you’re going to see a lot more mixing and matching of renewables in the years to come form these companies industries now located in Oregon.”         — Bob Repine

I got a chance to talk with Oregon Department of Energy Director Bob Repine about the future of energy in Oregon last week. Among other things, he told me the new secret to developing more renewable energy in the state is to mix and match various renewable sources to balance the highs and lows in the power generation capabilities of each.

Moreover, he said, developers themselves are taking on the task of balancing these loads because it’s in their best interest to have consistent power supply. Case in point: Last year, one of the world’s largest wind energy developers, Iberdrola Renewables, bought the new Lakeview biomass plant.

Here’s how Repine put it:

“I think what you’re seeing in much of the industry today is that in order to have renewables they all have certain windows that they operate in – or certain times. And they don’t necessarily run at 100 percent. A turbine doesn’t turn all the time and if its a solar array the sun’s only shining half of the day.

They need to try to match those renewables up with other complementary renewables so when you put the two of those together they’re able to manage their power production in a way that’s consistent on an ongoing basis all the way across time, and on any day. So you’re not generating power for two hours of the day and then all of sudden you’re not generating power. Or if we’re depending on a solar array we’re only generating power for 10 hours a day and then the rest of the time it’s dark and we’re not getting power production.

They’re mixing and matching these things. Some companies are using the combination of wind and solar along with biomass where they can effectively turn a switch on for biomass when the other renewables aren’t producing and they can balance the load from their biomass facility. I think you’re going to see a lot more mixing and matching of renewables in the years to come form these companies industries now located in Oregon.

It’s extremely important for them to be able to sell their power on a consistent basis. They’ve got to know with certainty they’re going to be selling power all 24 hours a day in order to make it profitable for them and to make sure the power is there for people when they turn their switches on at the end of the day.”

« How much is the wind blowing today?

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