Energy Storage Procurements Forging Ahead in Ontario

Ontario's commitment to 50MW of energy storage by the end of this year goes to a two stage request for proposals.
Published: Tue 18 Mar 2014

Following the Long Term Energy Plan committing Ontario to 50MW of energy storage, the Ontario Power Authority and the Independent Electricity System Operator have created a framework for moving forward.

The procurement of 50MW of energy storage will include two consecutive phases. The Independent Electricity System Operator will lead Phase I and is releasing a Request For Proposals this month. The Ontario Power Authority will lead Phase II and release a Request For Proposals following Phase I.

This is good news for the development of renewables since the country is aiming for 20,000 MW of renewable energy power generation to come online by 2025. This represents nearly half of Ontario's capacity.

Ontario’s energy storage crisis

Ontario’s renewable energy power production-mostly from wind and solar-is escalating at a rapid rate and storage solutions need to be implemented fast in order to match up with predictable periods of customer demand.

To date, Ontario has over 2,300 MW of installed wind power generation and more than 900 MW of solar photovoltaic electricity generation power online.

In fact, there is so much excess power from renewables that power authorities are being forced to sell this excess to its neighbours at very low prices. This is due to the fact that Ontario does not have appropriate solutions to store the power effectively to meet later customer demands.

We asked John Canella, Media Relations Specialist at Ontario Power Authority, whether 50MW storage will be sufficient. He responded by explaining that the amount of energy storage that can effectively be used in Ontario is still being assessed and will depend on the value it provides, as well as the costs. Both of these elements are being explored further by the OPA and IESO procurement initiatives. The 50 MW target in the government’s 2013 Long-Term Energy Plan is intended to identify the potential of energy storage technologies to increase the efficiency and reliability of Ontario’s electricity system.

Storage gets Government’s support

Ontario’s Government has acknowledged that energy storage is critical for the future of an electricity system with improved efficiency, lower costs and increased reliability. It has affirmed, in its Long-Term Energy Plan, its commitment to invest in innovative storage technologies, particularly in proposals that "integrate energy storage with renewable energy generation".

Several additional engagement efforts were announced including: a study will be commissioned to establish the value of storage technologies on the electricity grid; opportunities for net metering and support from conservation programs will be examined; there will be opportunities for storage to be included in large renewables procurement; and the Ministry will work to address regulatory barriers that may limit energy storage from competing in the market.

The many benefits of energy storage

By deciding to include storage in Ontario's procurement process the Ministry is creating a more efficient grid, promoting economic growth and creating jobs. Many of these new storage technologies are made locally and export opportunities will be created.

Energy storage will also help to enhance grid resiliency and power supply reliability in Ontario. Storage assets will improve the electricity system through a variety of distinct services and are a major component of smart grid development.

The demand for renewable energy continues to grow as a new competitive procurement process for renewable energy projects larger than 500 kW is expected to launch in 2014. To harness the full potential of renewable energy, energy storage solutions must be implemented.

Pilot projects in Ontario such as those involving Temporal Power's flywheel technology are already underway.

Further Reading

IESO-Energy Storage

Ontario’s Long-Term Energy Plan-Achieving Balance [pdf]

Ontario Power Authority-Energy Storage