Nuclear plus energy storage an opportunity for Ontario

28 January 2022

A combination of emission-free electricity from the Bruce nuclear power plant paired with long-duration energy storage can help maintain the reliability of Ontario's electricity system while reducing reliance on gas-fired plants, a report by the Nuclear Innovation Institute (NII) concludes.

(Image: NII)

"Increased levels of energy storage capacity will be critical a part of the electricity grids of the future as we seek to achieve net-zero," the report says. "These technologies operate best in systems with a steady supply of clean, baseload electricity - like in Ontario with its reliable supply of emissions-free nuclear power."

The report - titled Store of Value - found that the ability to store energy generated by low-carbon sources like nuclear provides the assurance of clean, reliable electricity on demand. It says the Clean Energy Frontier of Bruce, Grey and Huron counties is therefore perfectly positioned to create new energy storage capacity by leveraging the investments being made to extend the life of the reactors at the Bruce plant with the flexibility that TC Energy's proposed pumped storage project in Meaford would provide.

"Being able to store clean baseload energy from nuclear and draw upon that reserve when required is essential to match changes in electricity demand," said Chad Richards, Director of the Bruce Power Centre for New Nuclear & Net Zero Partnerships at the NII.

"Fortunately, there are plenty of made-in-Ontario solutions to fulfill our need for energy storage, including some right here in our region."

The report concludes a combination of nuclear and increased levels of energy storage would give electricity system operators a clean alternative to the current practice of using gas-fired electricity generation facilities to back-up intermittent sources like wind and solar and meeting peak demand, creating an on-demand supply of clean energy.

"Bruce Power's nuclear output is a backbone of Ontario's clean electricity grid, providing the province with stable, reliable, emissions-free baseload electricity," noted James Scongack, the company's Chief Development Officer and Executive Vice-President Operational Services.

"NII's report makes clear that pairing clean baseload electricity - such as that produced at Bruce Power - with proven energy storage solutions and infrastructure like pumped storage and battery technologies, provides a once-in-a-generation opportunity to both tackle climate change and attract a CAD4 billion (USD3 billion) opportunity and thousands of jobs to the region."

"These findings demonstrate that the path to a net-zero future in Ontario and Canada runs through the Clean Energy Frontier region of Bruce, Grey and Huron counties," said John Peevers, Co-Chair of the Clean Energy Frontier programme at NII.

"Leveraging our strategic position on the grid, our existing base of nuclear generation, a regionalised energy supply chain and storage projects that are under development presents a historic opportunity for our communities."

"We have an opportunity to create this store of value right here in Ontario, key to helping us face the challenge of decarbonisation and increased electricity demand," the report said.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News