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Ontario contracts Canada’s largest BESS in record procurement

Helps push past the province's original 2028 battery storage goal

A battery energy storage system similar to the one that will be in place at the Grey Owl Storage project. (Courtesy Neoen)

Ontario’s Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO) has contracted out a 390-megawatt battery energy storage system (BESS), which it says is Canada’s biggest to date.

The deal is one of 10 recently announced projects that will provide a total of 1,784 megawatts of energy storage.

The IESO has inked a contract with a joint venture between Toronto-based Potentia Renewables Inc. and the Algonquins of Pikwakanagan First Nation to develop the 390-megawatt Skyview 2 Battery Energy Storage Project in the Eastern Ontario Township of Edwardsburgh Cardinal.

Also announced was the 380-megawatt Grey Owl Storage project to be located in the Municipality of Arran-Elderslie, Bruce County. The developer is Acton, Ont.-based Shift Solar Inc., a subsidiary of French renewables company Neoen.

“The continued success of adding new technologies and resources to the grid will ensure the electricity system is ready to support continued growth all across Ontario,” Lesley Gallinger, president and CEO of the IESO, said in a release.

The almost 1,800 megawatts of BESS projects make up an energy procurement round from IESO that totals 2,195 megawatts of capacity, including 411 megawatts of natural gas and on-farm biogas generation.

The Ontario government claims the deals make up the largest battery storage procurement in Canadian history.

Energizing Ontario’s BESS capacity

The Skyview 2 project is planned to be situated south of Ottawa, made up of approximately 400 containers, each about the size of a 20-foot shipping container. It will occupy less than 30 acres of rural land.

Construction is expected to start in 2026, with operations beginning in 2027. Estimated to cost $750 million, it will provide four hours of energy storage, according to a release.

“This contract is not just a win for Potentia and its partners, the Algonquin of Pikwakanagan, but a leap forward for the industry in Canada,” Ben Greenhouse, CEO of Potentia, said in a release.

The Grey Owl Storage project is also set as a four-hour storage development. Planned to be located south of Bruce Peninsula National Park near Lake Huron, it is to be operational in early 2028, according to a release by Neoen.

It will be the company’s largest battery in its portfolio, exceeding its Australian BESS projects, the 300-megawatt Victorian Big Battery and the 270-megawatt Western Downs Battery.

“The province's energy and capacity needs are massive, and Neoen's ambition is to be a key contributor, by developing a broad portfolio of renewable energy and storage projects for the years to come,” Emmanuel Pujol, Neoen Americas' CEO, said.

IESO’s battery procurements

The two largest BESS procurements make up over 40 per cent of the 10 projects overall.

In a procurement round in May 2023, the IESO contracted out 739 megawatts of BESS projects by 2026.

According to the IESO, Ontario’s BESS fleet will consist of 26 facilities totalling 2,916 megawatts of capacity by 2028, across the two procurements and the 250-megawatt Onedia facility, expected to be complete in 2025. This exceeds the government’s target of 2,500 megawatts by 2028.

An article from the IESO says the province currently has 54 megawatts of energy storage, including batteries.

In a May report, the IESO says it will be exploring meeting future energy needs from 2029 to the early 2030s. This includes:

  • approximately 2,000 megawatts of “new supply to meet a five terawatt-hour energy need to be in service by 2030” that could include renewables (solar, wind, hydroelectric) and biofuels;
  • 500 megawatts to 1,000 megawatts of storage, hydrogen and biofuels in service by 2031; and
  • 500 megawatts to 1,000 megawatts of assets such as new hydroelectric and long lead-time, long-duration storage in service by 2034.

The engagement on these requirements is expected to be due by 2025, with the projects to be located across Ontario, including the northern part of the province.

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