Toronto Hydro pioneers pole-mounted energy storage

The world’s first grid-scale pole-mounted energy storage system is showing promising results in the Canadian city of Toronto.
Published: Thu 06 Jul 2017

As the need for energy storage increases, utilities face the challenge of having sufficient space to install it at the desired locations.

Toronto Hydro is pioneering a novel approach of pole mounting storage, using existing infrastructure located across its service territory.

The energy storage system has been in place since August 2016.

Mounted on an existing utility pole, the battery stores power during off-peak hours and is released as and when required. What makes this system unique is the fact that it doesn’t have a footprint i.e. it's attached to existing infrastructure. The battery can be mounted 4m up on power poles.

The project team, which is monitoring how the technology responds to real-time data, has said that the system has already proven its ability to reduce strain on the local transformer. The unit can store the equivalent energy of about 2,100 smartphone batteries.

The energy storage system was made possible with the support from Ontario's Smart Grid Fund, which helps those on the leading edge of the smart grid industry test their grid modernisation solutions in real-world settings. The unit was developed by Ryerson University and piloted by Toronto Hydro using ECamion battery technology.

If the pilot is successful, the technology will be installed using the city’s existing 175,000 poles.

Building an integrated power system

The utility is exploring grid energy storage as a way to extend the lifespan of some of its equipment and the storage system can also be utilised as a temporary source of backup power in the event of outages.

"This is another example of a creative and innovative energy storage system being installed on our grid," said Toronto Hydro CEO Anthony Haines. "We're focused on supporting collaborative projects like this one as it contributes to an integrated electricity system better designed to handle peak demand and improve reliability for our customers."

"Ryerson University's Centre for Urban Energy is pleased to have developed the world's first pole-mounted energy storage unit in collaboration with Toronto Hydro and ECamion," said Ryerson University Academic Director of the Centre for Urban Energy Bala Venkatesh. "The project showcases how the use of energy storage and smart grid technologies can enhance distribution system performance and reduce asset upgrade costs.

"The early results of the pilot are very encouraging and the energy storage unit is performing well," said ECamion President Carmine Pizzurro. "Our collaboration with Toronto Hydro and Ryerson's Centre for Urban Energy has been very beneficial in helping launch this innovative product on a large-scale grid."

As Canada work towards 100% renewable energy production, the grid will begin to take strain and opportunities to use cleaner energy will be lost of energy storage systems are not in place. Currently, renewables are responsible for 66% of Canadian electricity, according to the National Energy Board which also states that the main barrier to expanding renewable energy is concern around grid reliability.

The Centre for Urban Energy (CUE) at Ryerson University is an academic-industry partnership that is exploring and developing sustainable solutions to urban energy challenges such as the advancement of smart grid technologies, energy policy and regulatory issues, storage, EV, net-zero homes and renewables.