The 4-megawatt project is expected to provide enough energy to power 600 homes.

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Richland, Wash. — Energy Northwest is moving forward with plans for a 20-acre solar project in the Horn Rapids area just north of Richland.

It’s expected to be a one-of-a-kind project that combines solar energy generation with battery storage and a center to train solar technicians from across the nation.

Ground will be broken next fall with commercial operation planned by 2020; the Energy Northwest Board agreed at a meeting Thursday to proceed with the project.

It will be the first development in Washington state to integrate both solar and battery storage into the state’s mix of hydro, nuclear and wind generation, said Terry Brewer, president of the Energy Northwest board of directors.

“It’s our goal to demonstrate that renewables can be a more practical option in the future,” said Mike Paoli, spokesman for Energy Northwest.

Batteries can help make power from intermittent sources of energy, such as wind and solar, available when it is needed.

The solar project will provide energy directly to Richland’s power distribution system, with excess electricity stored by the battery system until it is needed.

The 4-megawatt project is expected to provide enough energy to power 600 homes, with the battery system planned to be able to store the power that 150 homes would use in four hours.

Hundreds of workers from throughout the country are expected to train on solar and battery technology at the Richland project annually, according to Energy Northwest.

The center will create a curriculum for solar and battery storage technicians that will cover plant construction, operations, maintenance and safety and hazard prevention.