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AESO Initiates Dispatchable Renewables and Storage initiative

In December of 2017 the Government of Alberta tasked the AESO with assessing how dispatchable renewables and energy storage could support the electrical system in Alberta's quest to achieve 30% renewables by 2030. 

The government appreciates the potential value that on-demand renewables can provide to Alberta's electrical system reliability, especially as significant intermittent generation is brought onto the grid through initiatives such as the Renewable Electricity Program. To that end, additional analysis and stakeholder engagement is required to determine the precise need, and subsequent best means, to secure these system benefits through a competitive process. This analysis is targeted to be complete by May 2018 and is to include details as to; whether any additional products or services are required, if so whether they may be procured using existing market mechanisms or whether discrete competitions will be required, and if discrete competitions are required, a proposal as to the structure and timeline of such competitions. AESO has been 

  

 


Companies increasing energy storage developments as renewables grow

Ian Bickis, The Canadian Press  01.16.2017

CALGARY - The rise of renewable power has created a need for energy storage that companies are fulfilling with underwater balloons, multi-tonne flywheels and decades-old designs. "Where renewables go, storage will follow," said John Wright, project manager at Northland Power.The need for energy storage comes from the temporary and sometimes unpredictable nature of renewable energy. The wind doesn't always blow and the sun doesn't always shine. Power companies and utilities have been looking to compensate for that with what amount to giant batteries and smooth out delivery, storing energy in times of low demand and distributing it when demand is high. Northland has been developing a 400-megawatt pumped storage project that takes the form of an old flooded mine, sitting on a plateau just outside of Marmora, Ont. The roughly $900-million project in eastern Ontario pumps water up into the mine pit when there's extra energy, and then lets it run out through a turbine when more energy is needed. Alberta's plan to replace coal-fired power plants with 5,000 megawatts of new renewable energy — more than all of the renewable energy currently online in Ontario — has prompted TransAlta Corp. to dust off half-century-old plans to expand its Brazeau hydroelectric project. Similar to Northland's Marmora project, Brazeau would be a storage operation that would allow the company to pump water back up to the reservoirs of the existing hydro project, which is about 200 kilometres west of Edmonton.  TransAlta currently uses the project's 355 megawatts of hydro to cover peak demands, while the expansion would add 600 to 900 megawatts of capacity and increase its flexibility. In announcing it was restarting development of the estimated $1.8 billion to $2.5 billion project last fall, TransAlta chief executive Dawn Farrell said the project was set to be the company's next hydro project in the 1960s before coal power became economic in the province. "So the world turns around in a big circle, and here we are back to this project," said Farrell.  

The circle is even tighter at Turning Point Generation, where Peter Bubik is trying to develop the Canyon Creek pumped storage project on the edge of an inactive coal mine lease in the Rocky Mountain foothills. He says pumped storage is still the most proven way of storing large amounts of energy, with Canada's only existing pumped storage operation near Niagara Falls now in operation for 60 years. "It is the most technologically proven way of storing bulk energy, and today still the cheapest way of storing energy," said Bubik. But new technology is opening other options.  

Hydrostor is piloting a project with Toronto Hydro where air is compressed using power and pumped into underwater balloons sitting on the bottom of Lake Ontario. When the energy is needed, the water pressure helps push the air back out through turbines and the power is sent to the grid. Hydrostor chief executive Curtis VanWalleghem said compressed air is growing as a way to store energy, but because it needs old mines or caverns, its potential growth is limited. "What you really need to do is fix the problem about where to store the air, and that's what we focused on, and that's proving to be the winning sauce," VanWalleghem said. Temporal Power, another energy storage startup, helped build Canada's first grid-connected flywheel, which acts like a windup toy and helps smooth out minor supply variations. The flywheel project is one of several that Ontario's Independent Electricity System Operator has procured in recent years.  

Chuck Farmer, director of stakeholder and public affairs, said the IESO is waiting for Ontario's long-term energy plan set to come out later this year before making any decisions on further power storage projects, but he sees energy storage as a long-term part of the grid.  

"We see it at some point participating on an even footing with all the other things that provide services and energy, and we think it will get there in relatively short order," said Farmer.

Press Release November 2015

November 9, 2015, Calgary, Alberta. WindRiver Power and Turning Point Generation are pleased to announce that they have entered into an agreement by which WindRiver will fund the further development of Turning Point’s pumped hydro energy storage projects in Alberta.  In exchange, WindRiver will acquire a majority shareholder interest in Turning Point. “Pumped hydro energy storage is one of the keys to unlocking more of Alberta’s vast renewables potential”, commented Kipp Horton, President & CEO of WindRiver. “Turning Point’s development projects are ambitious and will require substantial capital to construct, but the payoff in our assessment will be the long term, predictable returns that long-life cornerstone assets attract. The early development and strategic process work undertaken by Turning Point is impressive and we are confident that the combined strengths of our teams will make these critical additions to the electricity grid a reality.” “For our part”, added Peter Bubik, President of Turning Point, “we are pleased to now have the backing of a company that shares our long-held conviction that pumped hydro energy storage in Alberta will facilitate the integration of significant additional renewable generation.  Alberta has topography, albeit limited, that is ideally suited to pumped storage.  We also believe that from a regulatory and grid management perspective, the agencies in Alberta that are responsible for planning have the foresight to accommodate a resource that will keep the province at the forefront of renewable energy development.” Turning Point is focused on four projects, the total generating capacity of which is approximately 800 megawatts.  Of these, the capacity of the lead project is100 megawatts, suitable for storage capacity of 8 to 10 hours at full generation capacity. Pumped hydro energy storage is a commonly utilized method of large-scale energy storage.  It is attractive because it is cost effective, efficient and in many cases also supports the transmission system. The process is straightforward. Water is pumped uphill to a reservoir during periods of low electricity demand and stored. The water is then released downhill into turbines to generate electricity when demand dictates. Of particular note, the closely controlled release of water makes pumped hydro energy storage an effective method of balancing the variable output of renewable generation, particularly wind power. WindRiver Power is a developer, owner and operator of renewable energy projects, currently focused on hydroelectric and wind power facilities in Western Canada. WindRiver has offices in Calgary, Alberta and Abbotsford, British Columbia. Turning Point is involved exclusively in development of pumped hydro storage in Alberta.  

For inquiries contact: WindRiver Power Corporation Turning Point Generation Kipp Horton, President & CEO at (403) 233-2259, or Peter Bubik, President at (403) 703-1676