Batteries and Northwest hydropower operate on much different scales. Currently, the largest planned battery in the Northwest (planned for operation in 2021) will be able to release 30 megawatts of electricity for four consecutive hours. A battery that size represents an exciting development for our region. However, in comparison, the lower Snake River dams can generate up to 2,650 megawatts over a period of 10 hours per day for five consecutive days. That is enough electricity to power roughly 2 million homes during heat waves or cold snaps.
With thousands of megawatts of coal and natural gas-fired generation set to be retired in the Northwest over the coming decades due to climate concerns, we will likely need all of our existing hydropower, plus new sources of energy paired with batteries, to keep up with regional electricity needs. Rather than comparing batteries to hydropower, it will be important to use a combination of both.