Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Companies Increasing Energy Storage Developments as Renewables Grow

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Companies Increasing Energy Storage Developments as Renewables Grow

Article excerpt

Energy storage expanding along with renewables

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CALGARY - The rise of renewable power has created a need for energy storage that companies are fulfilling with underwater balloons, multi-tonne flywheels and decades-old designs.

"Where renewables go, storage will follow," said John Wright, project manager at Northland Power.

The need for energy storage comes from the temporary and sometimes unpredictable nature of renewable energy. The wind doesn't always blow and the sun doesn't always shine.

Power companies and utilities have been looking to compensate for that with what amount to giant batteries and smooth out delivery, storing energy in times of low demand and distributing it when demand is high.

Northland has been developing a 400-megawatt pumped storage project that takes the form of an old flooded mine, sitting on a plateau just outside of Marmora, Ont.

The roughly $900-million project in eastern Ontario pumps water up into the mine pit when there's extra energy, and then lets it run out through a turbine when more energy is needed.

Alberta's plan to replace coal-fired power plants with 5,000 megawatts of new renewable energy -- more than all of the renewable energy currently online in Ontario -- has prompted TransAlta Corp. to dust off half-century-old plans to expand its Brazeau hydroelectric project.

Similar to Northland's Marmora project, Brazeau would be a storage operation that would allow the company to pump water back up to the reservoirs of the existing hydro project, which is about 200 kilometres west of Edmonton.

TransAlta currently uses the project's 355 megawatts of hydro to cover peak demands, while the expansion would add 600 to 900 megawatts of capacity and increase its flexibility.

In announcing it was restarting development of the estimated $1.8 billion to $2.5 billion project last fall, TransAlta chief executive Dawn Farrell said the project was set to be the company's next hydro project in the 1960s before coal power became economic in the province.

"So the world turns around in a big circle, and here we are back to this project," said Farrell.

The circle is even tighter at Turning Point Generation, where Peter Bubik is trying to develop the Canyon Creek pumped storage project on the edge of an inactive coal mine lease in the Rocky Mountain foothills. …

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