Ontario’s Electricity System Plans Canada’s Largest Energy Storage Procurement

by | May 18, 2023

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Ontario’s Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO) recently unveiled plans to procure seven new energy storage procurement projects, marking the largest initiative of its kind in Canada. With an aim to support decarbonization and foster economic growth, Ontario’s electricity system is undergoing a significant transformation. 

Ontario anticipates a substantial increase in electricity demand over the next two decades as the economy expands and various processes shift from fossil fuels to electricity. The IESO forecasts an annual 2% rise in electricity demand over the next 20 years, necessitating the expansion of the province’s energy infrastructure.

Energy Storage Procurement Projects

The IESO’s latest initiative involves contracting seven battery storage facilities dispersed across Ontario. These projects range in size from 5 megawatts to 300 megawatts, catering to both province-wide and local energy needs. Notably, the majority of the selected proposals have formed partnerships with Indigenous communities, with five of the seven projects having at least a 50% economic interest from these communities. 

Recognizing the importance of grid reliability during the transition to decarbonization, the IESO is leveraging natural gas generation. The plan involves securing an additional 586 MW through expansions and upgrades at existing natural gas sites. Natural gas serves as a flexible resource, capable of swiftly responding to changing system needs in ways that other energy sources cannot.

Energy storage facilities play a crucial role in optimizing Ontario’s electricity grid. By charging during off-peak hours when clean energy sources are abundant, these facilities help maximize the utilization of non-emitting energy at peak times. Moreover, energy storage provides critical flexibility to maintain grid stability and balance, enhancing the reliability and resilience of the electricity system.

The IESO’s Pathways to Decarbonization report outlines a vision to eliminate emissions from Ontario’s electricity system. However, this transition requires a careful approach, with natural gas generation playing a pivotal role until nuclear refurbishments are complete and emerging non-emitting technologies, such as energy storage, mature. By investing in energy efficiency programs and exploring hydrogen projects, the province is committed to further decarbonizing its electricity system.

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