Ontario is on the cusp of major grid transformation as electrification, decarbonization and economic growth put pressure on the electricity system to change and expand. In Ontario alone, demand is forecasted to increase by two per cent per year over the next 20 years. Electricity system operators worldwide are faced with the same challenges and are turning to new and innovative technologies, like energy storage, to help meet the world’s evolving energy needs.
With traditional resources, like nuclear, hydro and fossil fuels, energy must be used as it is made, requiring generators to manage their output in real-time to match demand. With storage, energy can be saved for when it is needed, giving system operators access to a flexible resource while paving the way for a more efficient and sustainable electricity system.
The Benefits of Storage
There are many types of energy storage that charge and discharge energy in different ways, including batteries, compressed air and flywheels among others. Regardless of the type, all storage technologies operate on the same general principle, charging up when electricity demand and costs are low and discharging when it’s needed most. Other benefits, include:
Improving electricity system reliability by saving surplus energy until it is needed most
Supporting the integration of renewable resources, like wind and solar, by smoothing out fluctuations in their power output caused by unpredictable weather patterns
Spurring economic development, job creation, Indigenous partnerships and alignment with community energy and climate change objectives
Providing back-up power to communities, homes and businesses during emergencies
The Current State of Energy Storage in Ontario
While Ontario has benefited from a large amount of pumped storage at the Sir Adam Beck Pump Generating Station in Niagara for decades, it was ten years ago that the IESO started to integrate small amounts of battery and other forms of energy storage into the system.
Currently there are 54 MW of energy storage, including: batteries, flywheels, hydrogen and compressed air facilities that are currently contributing to the grid – mostly in the form of ancillary services – providing small amounts of energy to keep system frequencies in balance.
Energy Storage Projection comparison
The Future of Energy Storage in Ontario
With this experience, the IESO is moving forward to establish storage as a major contributor to system reliability. It recently announced Canada’s largest storage procurement of 739 MW. The facilities announced as part of this procurement are scheduled to be in operation by 2026. This is in addition to the recently announced Oneida Energy Storage Facility, which will add another 250 MW of battery storage by 2025. Combined, these procurements position Ontario to be a leader in grid-scale energy storage.