Unsupported Browser

We've detected an older browser version that will not give you the best experience while using The Atlas. Please consider revisitng this site after downloading one of the alternatives below.

Addressing Climate Change with Sustainable Renewable Energy Storage in Hayden, CO

Hayden, CO 81639, USA
The Atlas Community Team

Government Champion

Town Manager

Project Status

In Progress/Under Construction since 2021

At a Glance

Hayden, Colorado is a small town with a population of only 2,000. With a lot of the city's revenue reliant on taxes raised from the local coal plant, the shift to renewable energy poses a threat to its institutions. To sustainably shift to renewable energy, the city is looking to repurpose the plant.

Problem Addressed

With coal plants closing around the country, many communities have to deal with the fallout that comes with reduced tax income and job opportunities. Hayden, Colorado, a small town of 2,000, finds itself in a similar situation, with 55% of the support for its local education system, hospital and library districts among other essential city needs, coming from their coal power plant.

The closure of their local coal plants was slated to happen in the 2030 and 2036. However, the plan was pushed up, with the plant halting coal burning operations 8 years ahead of schedule. Xcel Energy, Colorado's largest power company, has been working with Hayden for 55 years. Hayden has one of seven plants in Colorado that are now slated to close earlier than anticipated.

Hayden's Town Manager, Mathew Mendisco, feared the implications the closure would have on a community so reliant on the revenue and employment the coal plant provides. However, Xcel Energy plans to close the plants early to help Colorado meet its goals of reduced carbon emissions and to do it without cutting employment.

Hayden, Colorado used/is using Molten Salt Storage to address this/these challenge(s).

Solution(s) Used

Xcel Energy plans to repurpose Hayden's coal plant and convert it into a molten-salt energy storage system. One of the biggest problems with renewable energy is that it relies on weather and weather isn't always consistent. Wind and sun alike come and go, and so do the energy they produce. This makes renewable energy temporary, and without anywhere to store it, only useful when weather permits.

Molten-salt energy storage systems store salt in a liquid state, as a result of thermal energy transfer. Excess heat generated from renewable energy sources is diverted to the molten salt, which is stored in an insulated tank. When the grid needs power, the liquified salt makes steam to run a turbine and generate electricity.

The plant repurpose will not cost the community any jobs. Workforce reduction will be managed through attrition, retirements, and retraining.

The city and company are still working towards implementation, with this being a first-of-kind unit.

Outcomes

  1. Once completed, the plant can store renewable energy, providing power even in the absence of weather conditions
  2. An optimized process for renewable energy in the place of coal, increasing renewable energy's viability and sustainability to help Colorado reduce its climate pollution 26% by 2025
  3. No layoffs across the 75 employees with workforce reduction managed through attrition, retirements and retraining
  4. Plant closure is projected to save the county $81 million and $246 million for customers

Something Unique

This salt molten energy plant would be the first of its kind, setting an example for what other cities can do to reform their renewable energy systems as coal plants are phased out.

Who Should Consider?

Communities looking to find a sustainable way to repurpose old power plants and/or innovative ways to store their renewable energy.

Related Local Gov Case Studies

Looking for more?