Store of Value: How energy storage delivers clean power on demand

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BRUCE POWER CENTRE FOR NEW NUCLEAR + NET ZERO PARTNERSHIPS JANUARY 2022

How energy storage delivers clean power on demand


Nuclear Innovation Institute (NII) is an independent, not-for-profit organization that provides a platform for accelerating the pace of innovation in the nuclear industry. Nuclear energy is a powerful force for decarbonization. It creates good jobs, drives economic growth and produces radioisotopes that are used—among other benefits—for cancer detection and therapies that save lives in Canada and around the world. The Institute is founded on the belief that the industry can enhance these vital contributions by adopting a structured approach to fostering innovation. nii.ca

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Bruce Power Centre for New Nuclear & Net Zero Partnerships will advance the connection between the fundamental role of nuclear—both

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existing and new installations—and Canada’s pledge to achieve net-zero carbon emissions, demonstrating that there is no viable path to a net zero future without nuclear power. nii.ca/net-zero-partnerships

Power Advisory LLC is an energy management consulting firm with offices in Boston, Toronto and Calgary. Power Advisory has expertise in areas including electricity market design, commercial contracting, generation procurement, conventional and renewable supply resource development, regulatory framework, power system planning, forecasting and tariff rate design. Power Advisory staff includes economists, engineers, system planners and commercial management specialists. Power Advisory is involved in jurisdictions across North America, with a particular focus on Canada and the Northeast poweradvisoryllc.com


Contents 5

INTRODUCTION CHAPTER 1

8

What is energy storage?

CHAPTER 2 12 13 15 16

Energy storage will be a critical part of net-zero electricity grids Replacing gas-fired backup of intermittent energy sources On-demand energy improves grid performance The need to reach net zero is changing our electricity systems

CHAPTER 3 19 20 22

Nuclear & energy storage—a clean energy solution Nuclear’s role in Ontario’s electricity system A pathway to net zero

CHAPTER 4 26

Clean energy storage: a made-in-Ontario solution

31

CONCLUSION

34

GLOSSARY

35

ENDNOTES



Store of value

A world of clean energy... when we need it

T

apping the kinetic energy of flowing water or wind. Capturing the radiant energy of the sun using solar cells. Splitting the atom in nuclear power plants. Humankind has a long history of finding new ways to capture and use energy. As energy systems have evolved, so too has the demand for energy. Our modern systems are built with the expectation that energy, mainly in the form of electricity on our power grids, will be there whenever needed.

Flip a light switch. Plug in your electric vehicle. Power up an MRI machine. We expect to be able to use energy where and when we need it—but the coal, oil, and natural gas that have been fundamental to transforming energy into a useful form have come with a cost. The carbon dioxide emitted while using fossil fuelgenerated energy is collecting in our atmosphere and warming our planet. The goal of reaching a net-zero future, wherein practices that emit carbon are significantly reduced and practices that draw carbon out of

PHOTO CREDIT: SHUTTERSTOCK

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the atmosphere are significantly

more than 60% backed by clean

ply by 2050 than we currently use,iii

increased, to a balance of zero

nuclear power.

electricity systems face a huge

total carbon emissions, has been identified as our best hope to avoid the worst effects of climate change. And we have less than 30 years to achieve this balance. Thankfully, the electricity sector offers us hope: nuclear, wind, solar, and hydroelectric power all deliver methods of electricity production without emitting carbon dioxide. In Canada, thanks in large part

But with increasing pressure to decommission carbon-heavy sources and reach net-zero electricity

challenge in maintaining reliability and flexibility to respond to future demands. This challenge is compounded by

‘In Canada, thanks in large part to our hydroelectric and nuclear sectors, the electricity we use is already more than 80% carbon free.’

the intermittent nature of some carbon-free sources like wind and solar (i.e., generating electricity only when the sun is shining, or the wind is blowing). Germany felt this challenge in 2021 as wind generation fell by 8% just as industry began coming back online after early-pandemic

to our hydroelectric and nuclear sectors, the electricity we use is al-

generation emissions by 2035 in

closures.iv This scenario was com-

ready more than 80% carbon free.i

Canada,ii and with expectations

pounded by the premature closure

That percentage is even higher in

that we will need nearly twice as

of several nuclear power plants in

Ontario at more than 90% with

much non-emitting electricity sup-

the country. The result? Germany

PHOTO CREDIT: BRUCE POWER

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needed to supplement its supply with gas and coal generation,

TOP TAKEAWAYS

which boosted the country’s emissions from electricity generation in the first half of 2021 by one-quarter, or 21 million tons.v One of the solutions to the balancing challenge? Energy storage. Energy storage technologies, of which there are many, use power that is generated elsewhere at times when demand is low to “store” the energy in a form that may be delivered back to our electricity systems when demand is high.

1. Increased levels of energy storage capacity will be a critical part of the electricity grids of the future as we seek to achieve net zero.

2. Nuclear energy provides the consistent, reliable, and emissions-free electricity needed for clean energy storage technologies—reducing reliance on gas-fired electricity plants and providing a system that can provide clean power even when demand is at its highest.

3. Pairing the clean electricity produced

Moving forward, Ontario’s electric-

by nuclear power with energy storage

ity grid will need storage capacity.

capacity like the proposed Ontario

Ontario’s recent Annual Planning Outlook (APO) projects an increase in provincial electricity demand at a rate not seen in almost two

Pumped Storage project will help lower greenhouse gas emissions while ensuring a dependable source of electricity.

decades, driven largely by increased electrification and the goal to reduce carbon emissions. The report indicates that the growth in demand will lead to a larger capacity need for both summer and winter peaks. In addition to capacity, the report forecasts a need for incremental energy towards the beginning of the 2030s.

specializing in electricity market

on carbon emitting gas-fired

analysis in North America, will ex-

generating plants.

plore how energy storage technol-

We have an opportunity to create

This report, prepared by the Nucle-

ogies—paired with clean electricity

ar Innovation Institute’s Centre for

generation from Ontario’s nuclear

New Nuclear & Net Zero Partner-

power stations—can help maintain

ships, with the support of Power

the reliability of Ontario’s electric-

challenges of decarbonization and

Advisory, an independent firm

ity system, while reducing reliance

increased electricity demand.

this store of value right here in Ontario, key to helping us face the

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Chapter 1

What is energy storage?

T

he concept of energy storage should be familiar to many: it uses the same principle as the batteries that have powered cell phones, cameras, and other electronic devices for decades. We use electricity to convert energy into a form that can be saved for when we need it.

When it comes to large-scale storage for the purposes of electricity systems, the conversation is less familiar but similar. Large-scale energy storage technologies can take many forms but essentially provide the same service—using electricity that is generated by other means (wind, solar, nuclear, hydroelectric, etc.) and keeping that energy in a form that can be

easily deployed when called upon (i.e., when demand for electricity is at its highest). Because many of the energy storage solutions being used today do not emit carbon during their operation, these technologies are being identified as critical pieces of the grids that will power our homes and businesses in a net-zero future.

NUCLEAR

HYDRO

WIND

SOLAR

Excess energy is stored using a range of clean storage technologies

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The stored electricity can then be used when it is needed most (i.e., periods of high demand)


Energy storage technologies range from mature, well-proven techniques like moving water (pumped storage) to emerging technologies like large-scale batteries, compressed air storage and hydrogen. As Ontario considers adding storage resources to its electricity system, many considerations will need to be assessed and evaluated, including but not limited to: alternatives to storage, ratepayer benefits and affordability, life cycle environmental analysis, and impacts to domestic economic stimulus. Given the scale of the climate challenge and an emerging policy aversion to traditional sources of capacity like natural gas generation, it is likely that Ontario will need to consider a portfolio approach inclusive of several storage technologies to achieve its system needs and policy objectives.

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PHOTO CREDIT: TESLA

PHOTO CREDIT: SHUTTERSTOCK

LARGE-SCALE BATTERY

HYDROGEN

Large battery storage systems, often referred to as “utility or gridscale” battery storage, are essentially exactly what they sound like: big batteries. We’re all familiar with the concept of charging up the batteries in a cell phone or camera; this technology applies the same concept. Electrical current from the grid is used to create a chemical reaction in the components of the batteries. When called upon for energy, the reaction is undone, and the energy released from this process is delivered back to the grid in the form of electricity.

Another way to store energy at grid scale is to create hydrogen, a clean fuel, using a process called electrolysis. Water (H2O) contains two hydrogen atoms for every one oxygen atom. The bonds between these atoms can be split with electricity, and the hydrogen captured can be used as an alternative fuel or to be used in grid-scale fuel cell technologies. Much like with large-scale battery technologies, fuel cells essentially reverse the process that created the fuel in the first place (electrolysis). Hydrogen and oxygen are forced back together within the fuel cell. This process creates electricity which can be delivered back to the grid when needed most—with water as the only by-product.

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PHOTO CREDIT: NRSTOR

PHOTO CREDIT: OPG

COMPRESSED AIR

PUMPED STORAGE

Not all energy storage technologies require chemical reactions like batteries and hydrogen. Compressed air energy storage systems, like the one operated by NRStor/Hydrostor in the Clean Energy Frontier region (Bruce, Grey and Huron), store energy in a much different manner. This technology uses electricity from the grid to power an air compressor. The compressed air is then sent to a storage container underground (in the case of NRStor/Hydrostor’s Goderich facility, the storage vessel is a depleted salt cavern). The air is stored there until the facility is called upon to produce energy. The air is brought back to the surface and is used to spin a turbine to generate electricity.

Pumped storage is one of the most tested, durable, and effective methods of storing energy for long periods of time. According to the Department of Energy in the United States, the first known pumped storage systems were used in Italy and Switzerland as early as the 1890s.vi In the United States, the technology was first used in the 1930s.vii In Ontario, a pumped storage facility was incorporated into the Sir Adam Beck Generating Station in 1954 and continues to operate today. The long history of this method of storing energy can likely be attributed to its simple and effective nature. These systems involve two reservoirs of water at different levels of elevation. Using a pump, in modern cases powered by electricity from the grid, water is pumped from the lower reservoir to the higher elevation reservoir where the water (energy) is stored until needed. When the grid needs power, the water is released from the upper reservoir to the lower and the kinetic energy of the moving water spins a turbine as the water moves, creating electricity which is then delivered back to the grid.

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Chapter 2

Energy storage will be a critical part of net-zero electricity grids

A

recent report from BloombergNEF projected that by 2030, energy storage capacity around the world will be “more than 20 times larger than capacity at the end of 2020.”viii And investors have taken note. In early 2022, Goldman Sachs announced a $250 million investment in Hydrostor—a long-duration energy storage provider that uses compressed air energy storage technologyix (as referenced in the previous chapter). It’s clear that meeting the challenge of reaching net zero with increasing levels of electricity demand will require investments in new clean energy assets while maximizing the utility of current sources of generation.

‘By 2030, energy storage capacity around the world will be more than 20 times larger than capacity at the end of 2020.’

Even in Ontario, one of the cleanest electricity grids in North America, the challenges of meeting the demands of electricity consumers while seeking to achieve net-zero grid operations are visible. Energy storage can help by: 1.

Acting as a clean backstop for Ontario’s existing renewable generation.

2.

Complementing Ontario’s existing and future nuclear assets.

3.

Maximizing the value of Ontario’s surplus electricity for ratepayer benefits.

2020

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2030


GREENING GREEN ENERGY:

Replacing gas-fired backup of intermittent energy sources

T

he electricity sector

electrification will require invest-

Ontario’s electricity system oper-

has undergone a

ments and resources to maintain

ator, the Independent Electricity

significant evolution

the reliability of the grid.

System Operator (IESO), has stated

One feature that will be of in-

to reliably manage the grid in the

over the last decade. The most notable

that it will require greater flexibility

change has been the large-scale

creased importance is flexibility.

introduction of intermittent, non-

Given the intermittent nature of

emitting sources of electricity sup-

some non-emitting resources—

gas-fired generators that the IESO

ply, namely from wind turbines,

combined with growing demand—

keeps on standby to respond to

the future grid will increasingly

sudden changes.

solar panels, and other emerging technologies. These new forms of non-emitting energy are reducing the need and dependence on traditional sources of supply from carbon-heavy resources.

require resources that can respond to sudden and unexpected changes in supply and demand. This is because the electricity grid must always remain in balance between

The introduction of green energy is

supply and demand to prevent

expected to continue growing over

system-wide blackouts.

future. Unfortunately, that flexibility is currently provided by starting

While this solution provides the IESO with flexibility to maintain the balance of the grid, it does so at environmental and financial cost: gas-fired generators produce carbon emissions—even when remaining on standby.1

the next decade, as both the federal and provincial governments look to decarbonize the economy and as costs of these technologies continues to decline. In addition to more non-emitting sources of supply being added to the grid, there is the push for greater electrification of transportation and home-heating to achieve decarbonization policies. The combination of a grid integrating larger amounts of intermittent supply and growing demand from 1

The IESO’s tool for increasing the flexibility of the grid is known as the Flexibility Mechanism, which sees the system operator procure an additional amount of standby reserve from gas-fired generator. The IESO typically procures additional standby reserves from gas-fired generators when wind output is expected to move up or down significantly.

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The following graph highlights the flexibility role that gas-fired generators currently play in Ontario.

day as wind supply declined and

On this particular day in 2021, gasfired generators responded both to the output of wind turbines, as well as overall demand, which increased throughout the day. In doing so, gas-fired generators became a vital flexibility tool for the system operator: when wind supply was high in the early morning hours, output from gas-fired generators was low, while gas-fired output increased throughout the

carbon footprint of Ontario’s

need for flexibility.

In essence, this means that even when Ontario is drawing clean electricity supply from sources like hydro, wind and solar, a gas-fired plant is idling, producing emissions, and incurring costs. And, if the wind stops blowing or the sun stops shining, that supply is typically replaced by increased levels of electricity from these gas-fired plants.

Under the current approach,

Energy storage solutions can pro-

demand increased. A move to further reduce the electricity grid (adding more wind and solar capacity and expanding nuclear)—in combination with greater electrification investments—is expected to increase the

adding more wind and solar will,

vide clean power on demand and could serve as a clean alternative to this practice.

ironically, result in greater emissions and costs.

WHEN THE WIND DROPS, GAS USE GOES UP 4,000

MW

3,000

WIND

2,000

GAS

1,000

0

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

10

11

12

13

14

15

16

HOUR OF THE DAY

Figure 1 - Gas-fired and wind supply on March 3, 2021 The graph depicts the output of both wind generation and the output from gas-fired generators. In the early hours of the day, wind generation is high while gas-fired generators are powered on to serve on standby as a grid flexibility mechanism. As the day goes on, the output from wind declines and is subsequently replaced by an increase in output from gas-fired generation.

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STORE AND SAVE:

On-demand energy improves grid performance

K

eeping the grid in balance can also create challenges when it comes to maximizing the utility of our clean energy assets. When Ontario’s supply of nonemitting generation exceeds the demand for electricity, two options exist for the system operator: reduce the supply or export energy to neighbouring jurisdictions. The latter option often results in the electricity being sold for poor value for Ontario ratepayers—Ontario is effectively a price taker—and is sometimes not an option if neighbouring grids cannot handle additional supply. In that case the system operator curtails generation from these resources and the energy is effectively wasted. Both scenarios represent an economic and an environmental loss to Ontario. Clean non-emitting electricity that we have paid for is either sold to surrounding markets at less than it cost Ontario or wasted entirely. Ontario currently allows a significant amount of clean energy to go unused—from wind turbines, hydroelectric facilities and (to a lesser extent) at nuclear plants.

The system operator does this in

the dam without generating power. More than 10% of total output at Ontario Power Generation’s (OPG) historical hydroelectric assets was spilled in 2020.

several ways: 1.

Curtailment of wind and solar output: The IESO can “curtail” supply from wind and solar resources when the there is too much supply compared to demand and the ability to export that power to Quebec, Manitoba, New York and Michigan is limited. When this occurs, the IESO will curtail—i.e., shut down or lower output from— wind and solar resources. More than 20% of all supply from wind and solar (predominantly wind) resources was curtailed in 2020.

2.

Spilled water at hydroelectric dams: While hydroelectric facilities have some capability of storing water, in many hours that storage is limited by either environmental regulations or high-water levels (or some combination of the two).

3.

Nuclear steam bypass and maneuvering: The IESO can reduce the output of nuclear plants by either bypassing steam around the steam turbine a capability which Bruce Power has or by reducing the reactor power (maneuvering) which can be done at any of Ontario’s nuclear facilities.

Using this surplus supply that would otherwise be lost to charge an energy storage facility would help reduce curtailment, lower the volume of water spilled and eliminate the need for nuclear plants to reduce output—allowing Ontario to simply save this clean energy for when demand inevitably increases and reduce the need to dispatch gas generators and reduce their associated emissions.

When this occurs, hydroelectric facilities must “spill” water, meaning that water is allowed to pass through

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RISING DEMAND:

The need to reach net zero is changing our electricity systems

O

ntario’s electricity grid is on the verge of undergoing a significant change. Most notably, by 2026 the Pickering nuclear plant is expected to fully retire—removing around 3,000 MW of non-emitting, baseload supply from the provincial grid. In addition, several nuclear units will be offline due to the ongoing

refurbishment program. The loss of Pickering will occur while demand grows and while Ontario— along with jurisdictions around the world—moves towards a pathway to net-zero emissions from its electricity grid. The provincial government has asked the IESO to evaluate a moratorium on new gas-fired supply in the province. Yet, the IESO’s most recent long-term outlook is fore-

casting both a material increase in output from the province’s gas-fired generators (see Figure 2) to meet future demand and the need for new sources of supply to maintain reliability. A typical gas-fired generator in Ontario emits around 0.39 tonnes of GHG emissions per MWh. Consider the 175 MW Sir Adam Beck pumped storage facility that currently operates in Ontario. For

WITHOUT STORAGE, WE WILL KEEP BURNING GAS 200

GAS 150

WIND & SOLAR 100 TWh

HYDRO

50

0 2023

NUCLEAR

2025

2027

2029

2031

2033 YEAR

Figure 2 - Energy supply outlook [source IESO APO 2021]

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2035

2037

2039

2041


Sir Adam Beck Hydroelectric Generating Station, Niagara Falls, ON. PHOTO CREDIT: OPG

every hour the pumped storage facility is operating at its maximum output, it can reduce GHG emissions by at least 68 tonnes. In hours when older and less efficient emitting suppliers are operating, the emissions reductions would be even higher. Larger storage facilities, like the proposed Ontario Pumped Storage project near Meaford would provide even greater GHG emission reductions (see Chapter 3). Storage resources also have different duration capabilities. Long-duration storage can provide a consistent level of output for eight hours

or longer (most pumped storage

Long-duration storage resources

facilities are designed to be long

would store energy through the

duration). Short-duration storage

night and into the early morning hours when there is surplus supply

‘A typical gas-fired generator in Ontario emits around 0.39 tonnes of GHG emissions per MWh.’

—allowing it to store enough energy for as long as eight hours. It would then provide that supply for eight hours during the peak demand hours—reducing an equivalent output from peaking gas-fired generators for the entire

can typically provide output for four hours or less (most battery storage systems are designed to be

eight hours. The longer the duration of the storage asset, the more capable it is of reducing the need

short duration). Both play distinct

to replace gas-fired generators on

and critical roles in responding to

standby.

demand.

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Chapter 3

Nuclear & energy storage— a clean energy solution CONNECTING CLEAN, RELIABLE NUCLEAR POWER WITH ENERGY STORAGE CAN DELIVER A NET-ZERO FUTURE

E

nergy storage technologies are in themselves non-emitting—they simply store electricity generated elsewhere and provide it when needed. But when coupled to an already largely clean electricity system such as Ontario’s, they have the potential to reduce the overall carbon footprint by storing clean, emission-free electricity when

available and displacing the need to use natural gas fired generation during peak demand periods. Effectively, storage provides the opportunity to shift emission free generation from when it’s generated to when it's needed. The abundant supply of clean nuclear power in Ontario positions the province to reap the full benefits of energy storage.

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THE CAPACITY TO POWER GROWTH:

Nuclear’s role in Ontario’s electricity system

N

uclear power plays an integral role in supporting Ontario’s electricity grid as one of the cleanest in North America. Nuclear power has consistently provided more than 60% of all electricity

generated in Ontario on an annual basis—ensuring that most of the electricity generated in Ontario was served by one source of non-emitting supply. Ontario currently has three nuclear power plants: the Bruce Nuclear Generating Station, Pickering Nuclear Generating Station and the Darlington Nuclear Generating Station. Nuclear power also helps maintain

Nuclear plants typically have a high capacity factor, meaning they expect to provide near their full output throughout the year, making them a key factor in reliably providing electricity in all hours of the day and in every season. Bruce Power had a capacity factor of nearly 90% in 2020, making it one of the highest performing sources of supply across the province. No other source of supply has as high a capacity factor. As a baseload supplier, nuclear power is a key player in serving energy demand during the highest demand days of the year.

reliability throughout the year by providing consistent, baseload supply. Baseload supply is the minimum amount of electricity needed to meet Ontario’s electricity demand. The reliability of power sources,

60%

including nuclear plants, are

87.8 TWh

typically measured in what is known as its capacity factor—which presents the actual amount of energy a source produces as a percentage of its full capability (ex. a source that generated the maximum amount of energy that it possibly could for 24 hours/365 days per year

Ontario’s energy supply & demand % of grid supply; Total = 132 TWh

25% 36.9 TWh

8% 11.8 TWh - wind 0.8 TWh - solar

7% 9.7 TWh

would have a capacity factor of 100%). Figure 3 - Ontario Energy Supply and Demand in 2020x

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As an example, Ontario’s fleet of nuclear generators provided a steady amount of electricity throughout the day on the highest day of demand in 2021. The capacity factor of Ontario’s nuclear fleet was greater than 90% throughout the day—demonstrating the critical role that nuclear plays in providing stable, reliable power in the Ontario.

PHOTO CREDIT: SHUTTERSTOCK

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NUCLEAR AND ENERGY STORAGE:

A pathway to net zero

D

emand for electricity varies by day and by season. In Ontario, demand is the highest in most parts of the province in the late afternoon hours during the summer months when households and businesses are running air conditioners when temperatures are highest. 2021 was no exception, with the highest hour of demand occurring in the late afternoon hours on August 24. In many other months of the year, particularly in the spring and fall, electricity demand can be significantly lower. Pairing clean baseload supply, such as nuclear power, with flexible storage solutions can counteract a potential rise in emissions while simultaneously maintaining the flexibility and reliability our electricity system needs. In a recent letter to the IESO, the Minister of Energyxi explicitly asked that the system operator consider the role of technologies like pumped storage, battery storage combined with non-emitting resources, hydro, nuclear, and demand response to eliminate emissions in the electricity system.

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Energy storage facilities in all their forms are well-suited to provide flexibility. In Australia, for example, a grid-scale battery resource has been outperforming traditional supply in terms of flexibility and response to sudden changes on the grid.xii Australia is also constructing a new pumped hydro facility. Snowy 2.0 will expand the original Snowy Mountains Hydroelectric

Scheme with an additional 2000 MW of electricity generation capacity and 350,000 MW hours of energy storage.xiii Recent pumped storage facilities proposed in Ontario are explicitly designed to provide long duration storage and grid-level flexibility in both charging and discharging. To maintain reliability of the grid, the IESO ensures that it has

OUR ENERGY FUTURE...

DAYTIME HIGH DEMAND

Homes & businesses use supply. Clean baseload from nuclear & hydro. Gas-fired generators back up wind & solar.

WITHOUT ENERGY STORAGE

ELECTRICITY GENERATED FROM CLEAN SOURCES

NIGHTTIME LOW DEMAND Clean electricity exported or curtailed.

Clean baseload from nuclear & hydro.


enough suppliers to meet peak

remain on standby and provide a

demand hours. This means that

limited amount of supply.

in most hours of the year, some suppliers—commonly referred to as “peak capacity”—will not be used. These resources will typically only provide supply when demand

Combining long-duration energy storage with baseload supply will mitigate the need for Ontario electricity customers to pay for

is well above average or there are

peaking capacity that is used spar-

a greater than expected number of

ingly during high demand hours,

outages. Even during peak demand

as those assets may become relied

hours and days, these assets may

upon less frequently.

DAYTIME HIGH DEMAND

Homes & businesses use supply. Clean baseload from nuclear & hydro. Clean storage back up wind & solar.

WITH ENERGY STORAGE

NIGHTTIME LOW DEMAND

Clean electricity used to power storage technologies. To be deployed when needed.

ELECTRICITY GENERATED FROM CLEAN SOURCES

Clean baseload from nuclear & hydro.

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As an example, Figure 4 shows Ontario’s electricity system on February 16, 2021. On this day, non-emitting supply—including baseload nuclear, hydro and wind—was greater than demand in Ontario throughout the early morning hours. Exports of supply throughout those hours were near the maximum capability of the interties connecting Ontario to neighbouring jurisdictions. Wholesale prices were $0/MWh

throughout most of the morning —meaning Ontario ratepayers were receiving little value by exporting surplus output to neighbouring jurisdictions. Later in the day, as demand increased, the province’s gas-fired generators materially increased output.

when demand for electricity is lower. At this time, it would cost little to produce, so rather than sell it for little value, we would store it—and later use that energy to reduce output from higher cost gas-fired generators. The result? Both environmental benefits in the form of lower GHG emissions and lower costs for electricity customers.

Increasing the energy storage capacity of Ontario’s grid would allow the province to “soak up” surplus non-emitting supply

HOW DO WE MEET PEAK DEMAND? BURN MORE GAS? OR25,000 BUILD MORE STORAGE? ONTARIO DEMAND 20,000

GAS WIND & SOLAR

MW

15,000

HYDRO 10,000

5,000

NUCLEAR

0 1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

10

11

12

13

HOUR OF THE DAY

Figure 4 - Ontario demand and supply by fuel type, February 16, 2021

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Chapter 4

Clean energy storage: a made-in-Ontario solution

I

n Ontario, energy storage systems are already providing value to the province’s grid. Projects like NRStor/ Hydrostor’s 1.75 MW Compressed Air Energy Storage System near Goderich, Ontario and 4-MW lithium-ion battery facility near Strathroy, demonstrate the fea-

solutions to assist in balancing

tween NRStor and the Six Nations

Ontario supply and demand.

of the Grand River Development

sibility of short-duration storage

And bigger, long-duration storage solutions are also on the table.

Corporation to deliver a 250 MW battery storage system.

These range from proposed

Another such project is TC Energy’s

pumped storage projects in the

proposed Ontario Pumped Storage

province to large-scale battery

facility, which presents an oppor-

projects like the Oneida Energy

tunity for the province to signifi-

Storage project—a partnership be-

cantly scale up storage capacity.

Enclosed pipe to carry water

Flow of water when generating electricity during the day (high electricity demand)

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= 1,000 MW ENERGY STORAGE

for

8 HOURS CLEAN POWER

1 MILLION HOMES

An investment of more than

periods of low demand—all

$4 billion, the project is one of the

without emitting carbon dioxide.

largest clean energy initiatives currently being developed in Canada, with the ability to provide 1,000 MW of clean energy for eight hours (or 8,000 MWh of total electricity supply) when Ontario needs it most. That’s enough electricity to

This is a tried-and-true source of clean storage, particularly in jurisdictions that have relied heavily on nuclear power as a clean source of baseload power (like Ontario). In similar jurisdictions as

power one million homes for eight

Ontario—like New York and New

hours—with the added benefit of

England—large pumped storage

soaking up excess power from

facilities have traditionally been

‘Using the average presented earlier in this report of 0.39 tonnes of GHGs for every onemegawatt hour of gasfired plant operation, the project could reduce emissions from Ontario’s electricity grid by more than 3,100 tonnes for every eight hours of operation.’

Georgian Bay

Flow of water when filling the resevoir at night (low electricity demand) Figure 5 - TC Energy's proposed pumped storage facility

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‘But with more storage capacity, like what the Ontario Pumped

CHIPPEWAS OF NAWASH

Storage project would provide, these periods of

PROPOSED SITE

Lake Huron

oversupply can become an

SAUGEEN FIRST NATION

opportunity to simply save

MEAFORD

clean power for when we need it most.’

TIVERTON

built in conjunction with baseload

Georgian Bay

nuclear power plants to better use these baseload power facilities and lower system costs. These pumped storage facilities remain operational GODERICH

and, in many cases, have experienced reinvestment and upgrades

in recent years. The tri-county region of Bruce, Grey and Huron is known as the Clean Energy Frontier—for good reason. Home to Bruce Power, the region provides Ontario with more than 30% of its electricity in the form of emission-free nuclear power. The region also proudly hosts a robust supply chain of clean energy companies and is a supportive environment for new clean energy projects (as is demonstrated by NRStor/

New energy storage projects would

an option. In these situations, the

bolster the region’s position as a

system operator either is provided

clean energy leader and would, in

with no other choice but to shut

fact, optimize the regional assets

down clean energy assets like wind,

already producing and storing

solar, and reduce the output from

electricity for the province.

nuclear plants (a costly option both

As discussed in this report, there

financially and environmentally).

are times when the electricity grid

But with more storage capacity,

Hydrostor’s first-in-the world

is approaching its limit due to

like what the Ontario Pumped

Compressed Air Storage facility in

oversupply—and exporting power

Storage project would provide,

Huron County).

to neighbouring jurisdictions is not

these periods of oversupply can

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PA R T N E R S H I P S


LOCAL ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT OPPORTUNITY PRECONSTRUCTION + CONSTUCTION JOBS

SPINOFF JOBS REGIONALLY

PAID WAGES IN ONTARIO & CANADA

1,033

2,800

$1.3 BILLION

parts of the world. This differs from other technologies like large-scale batteries, which currently rely on international supply chains and imported materials.

Long-duration energy storage assets, like the proposed Ontario Pumped Storage project, provide a solution to the challenges associated with increased levels of supply from intermittent sources of electricity like wind and solar. As was explored in this report, presently these sources are “backed up” by gas-fired plants that idle and stand ready to take the place of these clean sources if necessary.

become an opportunity to simply save clean power for when we need it most. During these times, rather than shutting down clean power assets, or exporting power at a cost to Ontario, the power can be kept in a clean form for Ontarians to use when called upon. The Ontario Pumped Storage Project is a made-in-Ontario solution. The fundamental elements of the project technology are water reservoirs, a powerhouse, and substation—requiring little need for the sourcing of materials produced or processed in other

Furthermore, the project will become a local economic development opportunity for the region. With the region’s wealth of experience in clean energy, drawing on the local labour force is a significant opportunity. Already TC Energy has stated that it expects to source labour, goods and services from communities in Grey and Bruce counties, including local Indigenous communities.xiv

+ NUCLEAR

= ENERGY STORAGE

A PATHWAY TO A NET ZERO GRID

Using the average presented earlier in this report of 0.39 tonnes of GHGs for every one-megawatt hour of gas-fired plant operation, the project could reduce emissions from Ontario’s electricity grid by more than 3,100 tonnes for every eight hours of operation. This is a significant number of emissions that would be reduced from the electricity grid in Ontario and better positions the province to meet its net zero ambitions.

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Conclusion

Banking energy: a store of value

A

s we seek to achieve a net-zero electricity system in Ontario, non-emitting supply—ranging from new baseload nuclear plants, small modular nuclear reactors (SMRs) and solar and wind installations, among other investments—are expected to play a material role in ensuring the province has an adequate amount of supply to meeting growing demand. Emissions-free energy storage needs emissions-free baseload energy. A combination of nuclear power paired with long-duration storage provides a flexible, reliable and clean solution resulting in an overall benefit to Ontario’s electricity system.

PHOTO CREDIT: SHUTTERSTOCK

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NEXT STEPS & RECOMMENDATIONS The Nuclear Innovation Institute will: •

Continue the work of the Clean Energy Frontier program which promotes the

Continue to recognize reliable nuclear supply as a foundational element to the

Huron Counties as a national leader in

success of energy storage technologies

clean energy technologies. The program

as a pathway to net zero.

transmission, and supply chain assets in the region to support new opportunities like energy storage technologies which will chart a pathway to net zero. This will include the promotion and discussion of economic development opportunities for Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities in the expansion of storage opportunities within the Clean Energy Frontier region.

Recognize that in the fight against climate change, just as Ontario phasedout the use of coal with nuclear power— a proven technology—the province of Ontario requires an anchor storage asset that is proven and reliable and builds a energy storage capacity similar to work being done to maintain and build new storage assets in other jurisdictions. The Ontario Pumped Storage project in the Clean Energy Frontier region provides

Support regional public information

a once in a generation opportunity to

sessions that demonstrate the signifi-

build a foundational asset that will

cant economic and community oppor-

contribute to a net-zero future.

tunities—linking storage opportunities with core clean energy assets that exist in the region (like Bruce Power and the proposed Ontario Pumped Storage project).

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32 |

and federal levels in Canada must:

region that includes Bruce, Grey and

will leverage the nuclear generation,

Governments at the provincial

PA R T N E R S H I P S


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Glossary NET ZERO Achieving a balance of carbon emissions that equals zero. This can be done by reducing practices that emit carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases as well as increasing practices that draw carbon out of the air (like planting trees, etc.). DEMAND (HIGH/LOW) The amount of electricity needed at a given time to respond to the needs of consumers. High demand refers to periods of time when more electricity is needed (i.e., during the day when homes and businesses are running). Low demand refers to periods of time when less electricity is needed (i.e., nighttime). PEAK/PEAK CAPACITY Periods of time when electricity demand is at its very highest. Peak capacity is the ability of the system to meet that demand. SURPLUS SUPPLY When the supply (amount) of electricity on the grid is greater than the demand.

Forms of electricity generation that are not subject to factors that cannot be controlled (i.e., wind blowing or sun shining) and therefore not always available. CURTAIL The practice of either reducing or suspending the production of electricity from a source of generation. SPILLING WATER A method of curtailing electricity production from hydroelectric facilities. Spilling refers to the practice of allowing water to pass through the facility without generating electricity. FLEXIBILITY The degree to which an electricity grid operator or method of production can adjust to changes in electricity demand (i.e., produce more when demand is high or lower supply when demand is low). CAPACITY FACTOR

UTILITY/GRID-SCALE Technologies that are designed to produce electricity to be provided to the electricity grid (as opposed to smaller technologies designed to be used by individual households or consumers).

The amount of electricity produced by a

BASELOAD The minimum amount of power needed to be supplied to the electricity grid at any given time.

ELECTROLYSIS

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34 |

INTERMITTENT

PA R T N E R S H I P S

generation source as a percentage of its full capacity (ex. a source that generates the maximum amount of energy that it possibly could for 24 hours/365 days per year would have a capacity factor of 100%).

The process of using electrical current to split the bonds between the hydrogen and oxygen atoms that comprise water (H2O).


Endnotes i

Environment and Climate Change Canada. A Healthy Environment and A Healthy Economy. https:// www.canada.ca/content/dam/eccc/documents/pdf/climate-change/climate-plan/healthy_environment_healthy_economy_plan.pdf (2020).

ii

Environment and Climate Change Canada. Canada to launch consultations on new climate commitments this month, establish Emissions Reduction Plan by the end of March 2022. https://www. canada.ca/en/environment-climate-change/news/2021/12/canada-to-launch-consultations-on-newclimate-commitments-this-month-establish-emissions-reduction-plan-by-the-end-of-march-2022. html (2021).

iii

Environment and Climate Change Canada. A Healthy Environment and A Healthy Economy. https:// www.canada.ca/content/dam/eccc/documents/pdf/climate-change/climate-plan/healthy_environment_healthy_economy_plan.pdf (2020).

iv

Reuters. German renewables use knocked by lower wind output. https://www.reuters.com/business/energy/german-renewables-use-knocked-by-lower-wind-output-2021-06-28/ (2021).

v

Michael Shellenberger. Forbes. German Emissions From Electricity Rose 25% In First Half Of 2021 Due To The Lack Of Wind Power, Not Willpower. https://www.forbes.com/sites/michaelshellenberger/2021/07/28/german-emissions-from-electricity-rose-25-in-first-half-of-2021-due-to-the-lack-ofwind-power-not-willpower/ (2021).

vi

Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy. Department of Energy – United States of America. “What is Pumped Storage Hydropower”. https://www.energy.gov/eere/water/pumped-storage-hydropower (2021).

vii

Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy. Department of Energy – United States of America. “What is Pumped Storage Hydropower”. https://www.energy.gov/eere/water/pumped-storage-hydropower (2021).

viii BloombergNEF. Global Energy Storage Market Set to Hit One Terawatt-Hour by 2030. https://about. bnef.com/blog/global-energy-storage-market-set-to-hit-one-terawatt-hour-by-2030/ (2021). ix

Utility Drive. “Hydrostor secures $250 million from Goldman Sachs amid rising investor interest in long-duration storage.” https://www.utilitydive.com/news/hydrostor-secures-250-million-from-goldman-sachs-amid-rising-investor-inte/617023/?:%202022-01-18%20Utility%20Dive%20Storage%20 %5Bissue:39196%5D&:%20Storage (2022).

x

Data sourced from Ontario’s Independent Electricity System Operator’s. https://www.ieso.ca/power-data (2020).

xi

Letter to IESO Gas Phase-Out https://www.ieso.ca/en/Learn/Ontario-Supply-Mix/Natural-Gas-PhaseOut-Study

xii

Snowy 2.0 Pumped Hydro https://www.snowyhydro.com.au/snowy-20/about/

xiii Hornsdale Power Reserve. “South Australia’s Big Battery”. https://hornsdalepowerreserve.com.au/ (2022). xiv Ontario Pumped Storage. Frequently Asked Questions. https://www.ontariopumpedstorage.com/ about/faqs/ (2021).

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