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Boralex, EDF, Atura Power seek local support for BESS projects ahead of Ontario procurement

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Boralex, EDF and Atura Power have submitted plans for large-scale battery energy storage system (BESS) projects to the Town of Greater Napanee, Ontario.

The three energy companies are seeking municipal approval from the town’s council in the southeast of the Canadian province for their projects, which could add up to a total capacity of 3.6GWh. Each of them is anticipated to be the subject of bidding into an upcoming procurement by the Ontario Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO).

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The IESO’s LT-1 procurement will open in December this year, and forms efforts by the system operator to mitigate forecasted growth in electricity demand towards the latter half of this decade.

In October 2022, the province’s government ordered the IESO to procure 4,000MW of capacity, including between 1,500MW to 2,500MW of energy storage as well as a similar amount of natural gas generation capacity, through competitive solicitations.

The IESO has already begun that process, hosting an initial Expedited Long-term resource (E-LT1) solicitation and awarding contracts to 739MW of BESS projects in May, and then another 142MW in June. All awarded projects, which range from sub-5MW resources to the largest at 300MW, will be 4-hour duration, serving 20-year contracts with the system operator.

Incidentally, the week the first contract awards were announced, Ontario’s ‘flagship’ 250MW/1,000MWh Oneida energy storage project reached financial close, and in a blog on this site the period was dubbed the busiest week for energy storage in Canada to date as a result.

According to Powering Ontario’s Growth, a report prepared by the provincial government, there was only 228MW of storage connected to the grid as of earlier this year including pumped hydro energy storage (PHES), but by 2026, after the first awarded projects come online, that will have risen to more than 1,200MW. Powering Ontario’s Growth also highlighted the important role long-duration energy storage (LDES) as well as shorter duration will play in supporting the growth of generation on the grid from about 42GW today to 88GW by 2050.

Bidder of biggest awarded Ontario E-LT1 contract back for more

Ahead of the next round in December, for which contracts are anticipated to be awarded the following May, developer Boralex, the renewables arm of EDF and Ontario state-owned gas company Atura Power have been courting the Town of Greater Napanee.

The town is home to several existing power plants and therefore grid connection and transmission infrastructure that could make it suitable for BESS development.

In fact, as councillors heard on 24 October as Atura Power made its deputation before them, Atura’s ‘new’ project would be a second phase to its 250MW/1,000MWh Napanee Energy Storage project, which already got an IESO contract in the E-LT1 procurement earlier this year.

Atura Power is a subsidiary of government-owned Ontario Power Generation and its Napanee BESS is being developed as a joint venture (JV) with renewable energy and energy efficiency solutions company Ameresco. Ameresco has a 10.1% stake in the Phase 1 project, and is being contracted for engineering, construction and other services, Energy-Storage.news reported in June.

For Phase 2, Atura wants to build another separate BESS of equivalent size on the same site, adjacent to the Napanee Generating Station gas power plant it owns. Atura will also bid into LT-1 with a 450MW expansion to the gas power plant. Company VP of energy markets and electricity growth Tom Patterson told the town council in the meeting that the expansion would be ‘hydrogen-ready’ although with current technology only around 20% to 30% hydrogen can be blended with the gas.

Incidentally, the IESO is preferring expansions to existing gas plants rather than new-build. Atura said in a presentation that while energy storage is suitable for shifting renewable energy generation to meet peak demand for up to four hours, gas can provide backup for longer periods of time.

At the same time, adding the IESO’s planned 2,500MW/10,000MWh of storage to the grid will reduce the amount of gas generation required to serve load, particularly on days of high wind power generation. Napanee Generating Station will likely operate less frequently than the electricity storage, only operating when peak needs meet four hours and storage resources have been depleted.

Fellow bidder Boralex appeared before the council on 26 September, and EDF on 10 October, both making similar deputations for their projects. The IESO is expected to award 1,600MW of energy storage contracts in this year’s procurement, to come online by 2028.

Boralex was one of the biggest winners in the previous E-LT1 solicitation, handed a 285MW contract for the single biggest successful project, the 300MW nameplate output Hagersville Battery Storage facility, as well as for its 80MW Tilbury Battery Storage project.

The developer’s new project in Napanee, Lennox Battery Storage, would be a 400MW, 4-hour system, meaning a capacity of 1,600MWh connected to an existing 230kV transmission line and occupying an around 22-acre footprint.

Meanwhile, EDF Renewables is proposing a 4-hour project of output to be determined, but between 100MW and 250MW, which it said would be confirmed after IESO deliverability test results. The project, called Bethany, would occupy around 10-acres on a site in the town which again would be connecting to existing transmission lines.

Each of the three parties is looking for the Town of Greater Napanee Council to offer a Municipal Support Resolution, which would show that the local authority “supports the technology in principle at the time of bid,” according to an EDF Renewables presentation. Development teams would still need to seek other necessary local permits and planning approvals prior to construction.   

With this localised snapshot of what’s being proposed for one corner of Ontario in mind, it will be interesting to see what other projects are going to go into the IESO pot in time for the 12 December bid submission deadline.

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