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SALT LAKE CITY — What is touted as the world's largest clean energy storage project destined to deliver 1,000 megawatts of energy is bound for Utah's Millard County and will change the U.S. energy grid in the West.
The Mitsubishi Hitachi Power Systems and Magnum Development initiative was officially unveiled Thursday by Gov. Gary Herbert at the Energy Summit in an event headlined by U.S. Secretary of Energy Rick Perry.
"The Utah Advanced Clean Energy Storage Project will generate enough power to meet the needs of 150,000 households. That’s the equivalent of about 21 percent of the total households in Utah," Herbert said.
"This investment shows that Utah is not only blessed with unique energy resources, but also benefits from wise policy and an ability to forge unprecedented partnerships that help drive innovation," he said.
In a media briefing later in the morning, Mitsubishi Vice President Thomas Cornell said the initiative is massive.
"This is an epic project for us," he said, adding it will fuse unique technology that creates renewable hydrogen and compressed air in a "condominium test bed" that will occupy 50 acres adjacent to existing salt caverns operated by Magnum.
The Governor's Office of Energy is high on technology, confident there is a hungry market for the power generation in places like California.
The energy storage technologies include:
- Renewable hydrogen.
- Compressed air energy storage.
- Large-scale flow batteries.
- Solid oxide fuel cells.
Herbert also announced the first deployment in North America of innovative software at the Enel plant at Cove Fort, Millard County, where electric pumps 1,700 feet underground extract geothermal fluid. The software monitors the pumps, using technology that detects anomalies and predicts maintenance recommendations, ensuring zero energy losses.
That type of technology, via NarrativeWave software, feeds into a goal Perry mentioned at the summit to bolster geothermal resources 26-fold by 2050.
The annual energy summit convened by Herbert is a conference and trade show that is the largest event of its kind in the Intermountain West, drawing more than 1,100 attendees and 70 speakers from around the globe.
On Thursday morning, it also drew protesters who gathered outside the Grand America Hotel in downtown Salt Lake City.
During a panel discussion featuring Herbert, Perry, Wyoming Gov. Mark Gordon and Dominion President and CEO Thomas Farrell II, the protesters got onstage holding banners and began singing.
Police allowed them to protest for a few minutes before they were escorted out, and afterward, the panelists engaged in a discussion prompted by the interruption.
Herbert said he appreciated their "youthful enthusiasm" and stressed a clean energy future can't happen overnight.
Perry said "to keep it in the ground" isn't very fair to developing countries.
"What does it mean to a young woman in Africa who does not even have a light bulb to read? How do we help the rest of the world clean up its environment?"
But one of the organizers, Brooke Larsen, said she thought their message was well-received, both inside the summit and out on the street where they gathered with signs and held a press conference.
The session continues into the afternoon, where more details about Utah's space in the energy world were expected to unfold.