Brookfield to enter 161MW/644MWh battery project in Ontario IESO tender

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A subsidiary of Canadian renewable energy investor Brookfield Renewable has proposed a 161MW/644MWh battery storage system to compete in an Ontario grid operator Request for Proposals (RfP).

Evolugen, a developer and energy asset owner wholly owned by Brookfield, presented its plan for Timberwolf, a battery energy storage system (BESS) to be built near the city of Sault Ste Marie, to the city’s council on Monday (11 July).

The lithium iron phosphate (LFP) battery storage project would occupy 10 acres of land co-located with Evolugen’s existing 189MW Prince Wind power plant, about 15km outside Sault Ste Marie. Development, construction and commissioning would represent around CA$300 million (US$230.5 million) total investment.

It would increase the supply and reliability of electricity from the grid in the Sault Ste Marie area while creating local job opportunities and delivering inward investment at a time of post-pandemic economic recovery, the company claimed.

Evolugen VP of trading and marketing Simon Laroche noted that the proposed project will only go ahead if it is successful in the Long-Term Request for Proposals (LT RFP) being launched by the Ontario Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO).

IESO is seeking 1,000MW of new capacity to come online between 2025 and 2027. The province is facing the retirement of Pickering, a nuclear power plant, and planned outages for other nuclear facilities.

Along with forecasted energy demand growth, this means the IESO is expecting to see a shortfall in electricity of between 4,000MW and 6,000MW by 2030 if nothing is done. As noted in a March entry on the blog of consultancy group Power Advisory, the system operator expects the need for capacity additions will begin to bite by 2025.

Evolugen’s Laroche noted that the project would therefore run to very tight and short timelines. Power Advisory noted back in March that the expedited RFP allowed for so little time that it made the building of new generation assets unlikely within the earlier part of the window. Battery storage, which can be built much quicker however, would likely play a significant role, the group said.

Timberwolf would be one of the bigger projects built in Canada, which has largely to date lagged behind its southern neighbour in battery storage rollout. Ontario has seen a fairly big rollout of behind-the-meter storage at large industrial facilities which reduce their electricity costs through peak shaving, but grid-scale storage development has been limited. Another province, Alberta, is starting to see development of renewables-plus-storage in particular with a handful of high profile projects but is still at an early stage.

Evolugen said it required the support of the local municipal council and to demonstrate community consultations had taken place for eligibility to enter IESO contracts. Laroche said feedback at community engagement sessions had been good thus far.

The only question asked by the council about the project was for further comment on the community engagement sessions. Evolugen VP for government and external relations Remi Moreau conceded that while there hadn’t been many people in attendance, the company received feedback from six attendees. Each of those had been interested in working directly on, or contracting to work with Evolugen, on the project, Moreau said.

The council unanimously ruled in favour of the Timberwolf project, clearing a major hurdle for the developer.

Evolugen’s parent company is becoming a major player in international stationary battery storage markets. An affiliate of Brookfield Asset Management, Brookfield Renewable tripled its US development pipeline across all renewable technologies when it bought out developer Urban Grid, acquiring 13GW of utility-scale solar PV and 7GW of battery storage projects in the process.

A few days after sister site PV Tech reported the US$650 million Urban Grid acquisition in February, Brookfield Renewable announced its first foray into the UK’s battery storage market, targeting 985MW of opportunities with developer Cambridge Power.

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