Compressed air energy storage tech could save Ont. $8B

Technology would also reduce carbon emissions by 87 million tonnes over 20-year period, study suggests.

TORONTO — A new technology to store excess energy generated by green energy sources could save Ontario up to $8 billion over a 20 years, according to a study commissioned by NRStor and General Compression Inc.

“Ontario has made great strides in eliminating carbon emissions, but there is more work to be done,” says Andrew Ford, author of the study and Professor Emeritus at Washington State University.

“Renewable sources of energy can be unpredictable. Energy storage technology can make renewable energy available whenever it’s needed – and that will pay dividends for Ontario.”

While the majority of Ontario’s energy needs are met by nuclear and hydro-electric plants – sources of so-called ‘baseload generation’ – extra demand must be met by intermittent sources. Sometimes this can be met by solar or wind energy – but other times, it is met by gas-fired ‘peaking plants’.

The owners of these plants receive ‘capacity payments’ whether or not the plants are operating, creating an expensive drag on resources.

Investment in CAES technology could eliminate the need for these peaking plants, saving Ontario up to $5 billion.

While Ontario has periods of excess demand, it also has periods of excess supply – when total demand in Ontario is less than the generating capacity of the nuclear fleet and hydro stations.

Ontario must pay the owners of nuclear operating stations a fee to reduce their output, which is charged back to ratepayers, on top of the need to spill water at hydro plants. The study suggests CAES would reduce absorb surplus baseload energy and delivering it back into the grid when demand warrants, saving the province up to $2.6 billion.

The study estimates that, through a combination of renewable energy integration and load leveling, 1000 megawatts of CAES capacity could deliver between $6.5 billion and $8.3 billion in savings to Ontario ratepayers over 20 years, while reducing carbon emissions by 87 million tonnes over the same period.

“Grid management has always been a delicate balancing act,” says Annette Verschuren, CEO of NRStor. “Large-scale compression technology will give Ontario’s grid operators the flexibility they need to create a flexible, green 21st century electric system.”

NRStor Inc. is a Toronto-based energy storage project developer, which is currently working with technology suppliers that manufacture and integrate flywheel, compressed air and battery energy storage systems and has developed a 2 megawatt flywheel energy storage facility in Minto, Ont.

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