With 2012 officially behind us and 2013 newly underway it’s a great time to look to the future of the energy network in Ontario and prophesize about what we can expect to see in the coming year. 

Ontario is already a global leader in smart-grid development and stands at the forefront of energy storage innovation. The province is also positioned to take a leadership role when it comes to energy storage technology.

As renewable energy resources continue to be integrated onto the grid, there is an increasing need to help mitigate the intermittent nature of renewables. Energy storage can help stabilize the grid and manage the discrepancies between supply and demand, reducing the need to export energy and providing regulation services to the electricity grid. The introduction of energy storage systems can also help alleviate the demands on Ontario’s aging infrastructure and on our energy system as a whole.

While this all sounds good, like many things, one size does not fit all when it comes to energy storage technologies.

Different technologies, such as those addressing bulk storage, distributed storage and axillary services, are able to capitalize on different opportunities to enhance our grid.

Location and duration of storage are two key differences between different technologies. Here at MaRS we work with several of the top energy storage innovators in Canada.

Technologies

  • Temporal Power’s flywheel technology is great for short-term energy storage. The company’s flywheels are able to discharge their stored energy quickly, providing load levelling and frequency regulation and helping to stabilize the grid on the order of milliseconds.
  • On a community level, eCAMION’s community energy storage (CES) project combines multiple module batteries, intelligent controls and multiple safety systems to manage changes in energy demand over the course of several hours, such as during peak demands.
  • Hydrostor’s Underwater Compressed Air Electrical Storage (CAES) works similarly to eCAMION, providing energy storage on the order of hours to days. Hydrostor converts electrical energy into compressed air and stores it deep underwater—at the bottom of Lake Ontario, for example—using the water pressure to push the air back to the surface where it drives a generator to generate electricity. CAES technology is also great for micro-grids.
  • For energy storage that is even longer term, Hydrogenics’ world-leading electrolysis technology can be used to generate hydrogen that can then be added to the natural gas system. This type of storage combines our natural gas system with the electricity grid and has the possibility of providing seasonal energy storage.

For more information on great energy storage companies in Canada, check out this brochure put together by the Canadian Embassy in Berlin.

Also check out this composition of quick one-minute videos from each of the above companies.

http://vimeo.com/43478147

Market

So is there a market for energy storage technologies? Check out these numbers:

  • In 2011, energy storage companies at MaRS raised $28 million or about a quarter of the total funds raised by clean technology companies.
  • Over the first six months of 2012 (inclusive) our clients have already raised $12 million.
  • On the world stage, global investment in energy storage technologies in 2010 was $544 million and jumped to $1.01 billion in 2011.
  • The market for energy storage is expected to be $35 billion by 2020.

Ontario’s energy storage companies, including the ones mentioned above, are in an excellent position to be world leaders in energy storage and capture a significant share of the market. (Pike Research)

Reflections on 2012 and looking to the future

I asked the four companies mentioned above to share their successes from 2012 in one sentence (quite the challenge) and to give us a hint of what we can look forward to in 2013. Here’s what they said:

eCAMION

  • In 2012, our greatest achievement was the successful design, construction, installation and launch of padmount community energy storage (CES) systems in Toronto Hydro’s smart-grid community.
  • In 2013 and going forward, we will install two more CES systems in Toronto Hydro’s distribution system, and bring our range of storage products to full commercial availability.

Hydrogenics

  • In 2012, Hydrogenics received an order from E.ON, a leading European gas and electric utility, for a 2MW Power-to-Gas demonstration project in Falkenhagen, Germany. The company also entered into a major agreement with Enbridge to jointly develop Power-to-Gas bulk energy storage projects in North America.
  • In 2013, Hydrogenics looks forward to launching other Power-to-Gas demonstration projects with utilities around the world, including the EC-sponsored Don Quichote project for hydrogen fueling stations linked to wind turbines.

Hydrostor

  • In 2012, the Hydrostor team worked diligently on furthering the technology, leading to reduced costs and increased reliability.
  • In 2013, Hydrostor is looking forward to the construction of the Toronto Demonstration facility in Lake Ontario.

Temporal Power

  • In 2012, Temporal Power built, tested and approved for use the world’s highest energy flywheel.
  • In 2013, Temporal Power will manufacture, install and commission MW scale power plants using this world-leading technology.

Future steps

So how do we help these companies continue on their paths of success? Different groups across the province are trying to do exactly that.

The MaRS cleantech practice, Clean Energy Institute and the Ontario Ministry of Energy are: 

  • focused on the development and commercialization of energy storage technologies;
  • removing market and regulatory barriers to facilitate the introduction of energy storage technologies onto the grid; and
  • leveraging relationships with entrepreneurs, industry, academia and regulatory bodies to generate an ongoing dialogue.

NRstor is:

  • working to provide grid-scale energy storage solutions by partnering with energy storage companies.

Ontario’s Smart Grid Forum: Corporate Partners

  • Energy Storage Alliance: Ongoing meetings with industry partners regarding challenges and potential solutions (the MaRS cleantech practice and Clean Energy Institute are members)
  • Demand Response: Discussing diffuse benefits of energy storage integration on the grid

I look forward to seeing what 2013 will bring in terms of integrating energy storage technologies into our electricity grid and the future of our energy network in general.

Jennifer Stoneburgh

Jennifer works with MaRS Cleantech Venture Services, assisting cleantech companies access valuable resources and mentorship. She has been focused on the cleantech ecosystem since graduating university, specifically helping new technology companies grow. She is active in the entrepreneur ecosystem, writing thought leadership pieces and organizing events with industry leaders. Prior to joining MaRS, Jennifer completed her master of engineering degree at McMaster University. See more…