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IPP Switch Power brings online five Ontario BESS projects in 25MW/44MWh C&I portfolio  

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Independent power producer (IPP) and solar, wind and energy storage developer Switch Power has commissioned five battery storage projects in Ontario, Canada.

Switch provides financing, develops and operates assets, including microgeneration, utility-scale and off-grid projects. The five newly-completed projects are sited at commercial premises and total 3,310kW/7,874kWh. They went online between June 2022 and March of this year, the IPP said this week.

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They mark only Switch Power’s first year of constructing projects, with four BESS assets it had already operational when acquired. The new sites are part of a wider BESS project portfolio of 25MW/44MWh the IPP bought from commercial and industrial (C&I) energy tech developer Peak Power, from which it also acquired its four existing sites.

At the time of the 25MW portfolio transaction’s closing in November 2021, Switch Power said it secured CA$5.6 million (US$4.15 million) financing, including a CA$4.3 million equipment procurement loan from renewable financing solutions provider RE Royalties, that would enable it to procure the BESS technology for the five projects just completed.

The systems have been deployed for C&I clients based in the Greater Toronto area of Ontario. Heavy industrial users of electricity in Ontario are levied significant demand charges on their bills based on their consumption of power during coincident peaks in demand on the grid. Called the Global Adjustment Charge (GAC), the Ontario scheme has led to the province becoming Canada’s hotbed for energy storage development.

While those projects are often in the multiple megawatt range despite being behind-the-meter, Switch Power said that the five new systems will participate in Ontario’s ancillary services market as well as helping the end-customers to peak shave their electricity use. The majority of revenues will come from Energy Services Agreements with the building owners.

The projects had originally been scheduled to come online last summer. CEO Trevor White said they had been completed safely by Switch Power’s team, “while navigating significant market forces related to inflation and supply chain”.

“These assets will provide electricity cost savings to our clients as well as play a role in Ontario’s energy market and grid transformation by demonstrating the ability of distributed energy resources (DERs) to be an integral part of the energy mix,” White said.

Post-acquisition, Switch Power managed the engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) of the five projects, while vendor Peak Power will stay on to provide energy optimisation services and control the dispatch of the assets using its Peak Synergy software platform.

Meanwhile Canadian BESS company Eneon-ES supplied the battery storage solutions. Ownership will be in the hands of a Switch subsidiary that will also provide operations and maintenance (O&M) services.

Financial support from the Canadian government came in the form of CA$2.3 million funding from the national Smart Renewables and Electrification Pathways (SREP) programme.

Canada’s Minister of Natural Resources said the government “is supporting SWITCH Power to deploy energy storage systems across Ontario, while creating jobs and contributing to the development of a reliable net-zero electricity systems by 2035”.

“The modernisation of electricity grids across Canada will ensure that communities have access to clean, reliable and affordable energy,” minister Jonathan Wilkinson said.

Canada set to play catchup with southern neighbour

While energy storage development has been much slower to take hold in Canada than in the US, with the majority of deployments focused on Ontario and the transmission operator IESO’s GAC scheme, there have been moves to accelerate adoption in recent months.

At provincial level, the Ontario government has directed the IESO to hold procurements for up to 2,500MW of energy storage resources, while Nova Scotia has recently sought to make changes to its electricity laws to accommodate storage and Alberta has various projects in development including large-scale solar-plus-storage, several with government assistance.

At national level, the country is set to introduce an investment tax credit (ITC) for energy storage alongside other incentives and investments into clean energy, largely in reaction to the US’ Inflation Reduction Act, which has since the start of this year introduced ITCs for energy storage among its US$369 billion of clean energy support. Canada’s government recently also pledged to refinance the CA$1.56 billion SREP programme, which provides up to CA$25 million support per project.

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