REGINA – Back in 2012, at the Williston Basin Conference in Bismarck, North Dakota, Scott Tinker, the person who produced the documentary Switch told the conference, “If you truly want to solve the world, solve storage.” Now, ten years later, SaskPower is getting in the game of battery backup for the power grids. However, that’s nine years after it was first tried in this province by the Cowessess First Nation.

On March 18 SaskPower announced that On Power of Longueil, Quebec has been selected to build Saskatchewan’s first ever utility-scale battery energy storage system (BESS). The 20 megawatt facility, to be built in northeast Regina, will be able to power up to 20,000 homes for one hour.

In 2013, Cowessess First Nation pioneered battery storage in Saskatchewan with their facility, built beside their one megawatt wind turbine that was purposefully built conspicuously close to Regina’s east side. That battery facility, however, was much smaller, at 600 kilowatt hours, or 0.6 megawatt-hours at the time of construction. (Cowessess’ website currently lists the capacity as 400 kilowatts) That facility has since seen 400 kilowatts solar panels added, and the First Nation is also pursuing a 10 megawatt solar installation.

Alberta already has three grid-scale battery systems installed and connected to the grid. At Pincher Creek there’s a 10 megawatt facility which went online on Oct. 15, 2020. It’s part of TransAlta’s Summerview Wind Farm location and uses Tesla battery technology. That site has a nameplate capacity of 10 megawatts with total storage capacity of 20 megawatt-hours.

TERIC Power Ltd has built 20 megawatt facilities in Alberta at Rycroft, and Buffalo Creek, near Irma. They are known as eReserve1 and eReserve2. Other facilities are planed for Clairmont (eReserve3), Hardisty (eReserve4 and eReserve6) and Hughenden (eReserve5).

Summerview, Rycroft and Buffalo Creek all appear on the Alberta Electric System Operator Website which shows minute-by-minute updates of the entire Alberta electrical grid. In the numerous times Pipeline Online has referenced that website since Dec. 29, only once has any of those three sites been noted feeding power into the grid.

SaskPower does not provide such detailed information on its grid to the public.

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“Reliable and sustainable sources of energy are vital to building healthier communities,” said the Dominic LeBlanc, federal Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, Infrastructure and Communities, in a release. “Through our collaboration with provincial partners, SaskPower’s first Battery Energy Storage System will help us reach net-zero by 2050.”

“This new battery energy storage facility will be an important part of modernizing Saskatchewan’s power grid,” said Don Morgan, Minister responsible for SaskPower. “Innovative solutions such as battery energy storage will allow SaskPower to better utilize our renewable power, playing a vital role as we work towards net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.”

Incorporating battery energy storage into the system will allow SaskPower to respond more quickly to short-term fluctuations as more intermittent renewable generation such as wind and solar is added to the mix, the Crown corporation said.

Alberta’s grid has seen times when its total solar and wind output has fallen as low as 1/10 of one per cent of their total rated capacity of 2,605 megawatts. And even when it did, on the evening of Jan. 5, 2022, Alberta’s grid drew zero megawatts from their 50 megawatts of battery storage installed, even when they were pulling 784 megawatts from Saskatchewan, Montana and British Columbia.

As the first of its kind of that scale in Saskatchewan, SaskPower said the Regina facility will serve as an opportunity for it to gain experience operating and maintaining battery storage systems and take full advantage of their benefits.

“We are excited to be selected for this project and look forward to delivering a world class BESS system for SaskPower,” said Marc Beliveau, On Power solution specialist. “We would also like to thank our partners who helped make this happen which are Saft America’s (SAFT), Island Technical Installations (ITI), Power Electronics and InAccess.”

SAFT was also the provider of the battery for the Cowessess project.

This 20 megawatt project for SaskPower will cost an estimated $26 million and will be funded in part by the Government of Canada through the Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program. Construction will begin on the project starting this spring and be completed in 2023.

 

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Alberta’s wind and solar produced 1/10 of 1% of their total rated capacity on Wednesday night