Published: July 20, 2023
By: Concentric Staff Writer
Officials of the Canadian province of Ontario said they are launching a new energy initiative to address growing electricity demand due to electrification using a variety of resources, reflecting electrification trends also occurring across the United States.
Energy Minister Todd Smith announced the plan on July 10, saying strong economic growth and trends such as electric vehicles create a need for new zero-emissions electricity generation, long-duration energy storage and new transmission infrastructure.
“Our government’s open for business approach has resulted in unprecedented investments and job creation, from electric vehicles and battery manufacturing to critical minerals to green steel,” Smith said in written statement. “Powering Ontario’s Growth lays out the province’s plan to build the clean electricity generation, storage, and transmission we need to power the next major international investment, the new homes we are building, and industries as they grow and electrify.”
New EV and battery manufacturing facilities from companies such as Stellantis, Volkswagen and Umicore are contributing to a rise in electricity demand in Ontario for the first time since 2005. Smith said the province is working with the steel industry to end usage of coal and to electrify operations to produce “green steel” in the cities of Hamilton and Sault Ste. Marie. The investments alone will increase electricity demand by eight terawatt hours, doubling the annual average energy use of the Ottawa region.
The province’s Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO) has recommended an early start to meet energy demands through 2030 while keeping costs low. The IESO’s Pathways to Decarbonization Report issued in December 2022 included one scenario for demand growth that could rise from 42,000 MW today to 88,000 MW by 2050.
Powering Ontario’s Growth includes a nuclear energy component, such as a plan to site 4,800 megawatts (MW) of new nuclear on the current site of the Bruce Power Nuclear Generating Station, already the largest operating nuclear plant in the world with 6,550 MW of capacity. Nuclear power currently provides about 50 percent of the province’s energy supply, and it is one of the cleanest grids in the world, officials said.
A second aspect of the new plan is competitive procurements of new clean-energy resources such as wind, solar, hydroelectric, batteries and biogas, while a third component calls for designating and prioritizing three new electric transmission lines: one to power Algoma Steel and other companies in Northeastern Ontario, one line in the Ottawa region and one across Eastern Ontario. The Energy Minister’s office said it would direct the IESO to conduct a report on transmission options to address system bottlenecks between Toronto, Northern Ontario, and into downtown Toronto, where growth is expected.
The province will also request Ontario Power Generation to optimize hydroelectric generation sites and assess proposed pumped storage projects in Marmora and Meaford to “improve grid efficiency.”
The new plan also aims to keep costs low by starting to plan for the future of energy efficiency programming to reduce demand and support the deployment of distributed energy resources such as rooftop solar and EV batteries.
“As our province moves toward an electric future with a strong end-to-end EV supply chain, there has never been a greater need for clean, affordable energy that companies can rely on. This plan brings us one step closer to being a world-leading energy powerhouse,” Ontario Minister of Economic Development Vic Fedeli said in a written statement, adding that the province has attracted billions of dollars in investment from domestic and international companies over the past 2 ½ years.
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