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Canadian Solar supplies large-scale grid storage in Ontario

Canadian Solar's lithium battery system will be used to provide ancillary services to Ontario's grid. Image: Canadian Solar.
Canadian Solar has finalised a deal to provide 4MW of energy storage, to be used to support the electrical grid in Ontario, Canada.

The PV module manufacturer and more recently, large-scale project developer, was among several companies selected by Ontario’s Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO) to supply storage to the grid. This followed a competitive application process.

The move was part of a long-term energy plan (LTEP) for Ontario that will allow the province to greatly increase its share of energy generated by renewable energy and investigate options to add more flexibility to energy supply and demand, such as storage. The LTEP was announced at the end of 2013. Ontario has a target to procure 50MW of energy storage by the end of this year, of which 35MW has been entrusted to the IESO to procure. So far IESO has procured 33.54MW, with the Ontario Power Authority responsible for sourcing the remaining 15MW.

Earlier this year, a 2MW flywheel energy storage project was commissioned in Ontario, developed by storage specialist start-up NRStor and built by Temporal Power. Also completed in August was a 2.6MWh storage system featuring a set of 20 tonne containerised lithium iron phosphate batteries by Renewable Energy Systems Canada (RES Canada) to provide frequency regulation, located in Central Strathroy, west of London, Ontario.

Storage providers were asked that submitted projects should be “…powered exclusively by electricity withdrawn from the Connection Point, and must not be co-fired with another fuel such as natural gas, and must be capable of re-injecting electricity back into the Connection Point.”

Canadian Solar will supply a lithium battery-based system with a capacity of 4MW and 2.76MWh of stationary, grid-connected energy storage for ancillary services applications. Ancillary services address short-term imbalances in energy infrastructure, which can include frequency response and mitigating the variability of renewable power sources.

A flywheel energy storage system was completed and connected in Ontario in July. Image: Temporal Power.
The Canadian Solar project was selected in July but the process has just closed its stakeholder comment stage and the company has been confirmed as a participant.

Dr Shawn Qu, chief executive officer and chairman of Canadian Solar said the company was pleased to be selected by IESO.

“This marks a new milestone for Canadian Solar as we make further progress on our move forward from being a module manufacturer to becoming a total energy solution provider,” he said.

“We are now established as one of the industry's fastest growing companies, with one of the largest project pipelines, while expanding our business model by adding bulk energy on-grid battery storage to our portfolio.”

Canadian Solar's chairman and chief executive officer Shawn Qu said the company's addition of bulk energy on-grid battery storage was further indication of the company's move towards becoming a "total energy solution provider". Image: Canadian Solar.
Several big-name solar companies have entered the storage market recently at various levels, with US companies including Sunrun, SunPower and SolarCity running pilot projects at customers’ homes. Speaking with PV Tech Power, the downstream solar industry journal launched by Solar Media, PV Tech Storage’s publisher earlier this year, SunPower CEO Tom Werner said that in his company’s case, vertical integration to include storage with solar system manufacturing and project development could allow SunPower to factor in the total value chain.

“I’ve been CEO of SunPower for 11 years. We’ve gone from being a solar cell producer to a module producer to a system company. Over the last few years we’ve introduced power purchase agreements (PPAs) and leases so that we sell energy, and essentially the relative economic metric is levelised cost of energy (LCOE). As you add storage, then you can do things that will look at the total economic equation, not just the cost of generation.”

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