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Industry welcomes Trudeau’s ‘specific recognition’ of energy storage in Canada infrastructure plan

An energy storage project under construction for an industrial site in Ontario, Canada, earlier this year. Image: Sungrid.

The government of Canada unveiled CA$10 billion (US$7.53 billion) worth of “new major infrastructure initiatives” last week, with the inclusion of energy storage warmly welcomed by trade group Energy Storage Canada.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced a new Growth Plan to be delivered through the Canadian Infrastructure Bank (CIB) last Thursday. The three-year plan to invest in infrastructure is a key part of a drive to create jobs and economic growth in the wake of the effects of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

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With the hope of creating around 60,000 jobs throughout the country, the Growth Plan focuses on areas including agriculture and internet connectivity as well as helping to build a resilient and sustainable low-carbon economy.

A quarter of the pledged CA$10 billion will go towards clean power initiatives, “to support renewable generation and storage,” a government statement read, as well as transmitting clean electricity between Canada’s provinces, territories and regions, with northern and Indigenous communities among them.

With a further CA$500 million to be allocated by the CIB to directly support project development and early construction works, the plan is part of the government’s overall CA$180 billion commitment to investing in new infrastructure in the country. CIB chair Michael Sabia said that “every dollar of investment” in the Growth Plan initiatives is “intended to attract additional dollars from private and institutional investors”.

Justin Wahid Rangooni, executive director of Energy Storage Canada, told that the group, which began as a trade association for Ontario’s booming storage sector but has since encompassed national representation, “is encouraged to see that energy storage was specifically referenced in the Federal Government announcement”.

Rangooni said it was encouraging to see energy storage “recognised as a critical piece in the recovery, through the creation of clean energy jobs in a rapidly expanding industry while lowering energy costs of consumers”.

“We look forward to finding out more details on the programme specifics so we can help unlock the potential of energy storage in Canada,” Rangooni said.

Indeed, Energy Storage Canada recently commissioned a report on exactly that topic, highlighting that even before many of the environmental and societal benefits of energy storage are taken into account, deployment of 1GW of energy storage could save billpayers CA$4 billion by 2030.

So far, much of the action has focused on peak demand reduction for industrial heavy users of electricity in Ontario, although the first grid-scale battery project in Alberta came online during August.  

Rangooni also drew attention to a keynote address given last week at Energy Storage Canada’s annual conference by the Federal Minister of Natural Resources Canada, Seamus O’Regan, which the trade group’s executive director described as a “quite inspiring and nice call to action”.

“Few areas offer greater potential for building that safer, greener, more competitive future than energy storage, by lowering wholesale costs, optimising investment in transmission and distribution and saving customers money by shifting their peak consumption,” Minister O’Reagan said in his speech.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Trudeau said that investing in infrastructure is a means of “strengthening our communities and ensuring good jobs for today and in the future”.

“We will continue to do what it takes to support Canadians through this crisis, safely get our economy back up and running, and get people back to work.”

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