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A female worker in a hard hat uses a tablet computer near a electrical components.

Storing the power

OPG continues to look for innovative ways to store and capture the clean energy it produces to use at a later time. Whether it be pumped hydroelectric storage or capturing renewable solar energy in a battery, energy storage can lower electricity costs and provide the flexibility to deploy power needed at peak times of demand.

See how OPG is developing energy storage solutions for the future.

Pumped storage: how it works

At OPG’s hydroelectric operations across the province, water is held back by dams in reservoirs, ready to be unleashed when power is needed.

At Niagara Falls, OPG operates a unique pumped storage generating station. The Sir Adam Beck Pump Generating Station (PGS) is a six-unit station that can generate 174 megawatts of power - enough electricity to power about 170,000 homes each year.

The station features a 750-acre reservoir that is pumped full of water overnight when electricity demand is low. It takes about eight hours to fill the reservoir, which can hold as much water as about 8,000 Olympic-sized swimming pools. When electricity demand is high, the stored water is used to increase flow through the station’s turbines and generate more power than would otherwise be possible.

The reservoir can store the same amount of energy as one million car batteries and can displace the use of up to 600 megawatts of fossil fuel generation.

The Sir Adam Beck PGS and its reservoir were constructed concurrently with the Sir Adam Beck II Generating Station and entered service in 1957. In 2017, OPG completed a $60-million refurbishment of the station’s reservoir to extend its operating life for another 50 years.

An aerial view of the Sir Adam Beck I and II hydroelectric generating stations.
The Sir Adam Beck Pump Generating Station can displace the use of up to 600 megawatts of fossil fuel generation.

Sir Adam Beck PGS: A truly unique facility

The pumped-storage strategy used at the Sir Adam Beck PGS enables OPG to make more effective use of the water available for power production under the Niagara Diversion Treaty of 1950. This treaty ensures a sufficient flow of water over Niagara Falls to maintain its scenic beauty, and sets out conditions for sharing the remaining water to generate power at the nearby Canadian and American hydroelectric facilities.

The Sir Adam Beck PGS plays an important role in generating flexible, emissions-free power for Ontario. It is the only facility of its kind in Canada and is part of OPG’s clean energy portfolio which is more than 90% free of greenhouse gas and smog causing emissions.

Storing the power of the sun

In northwestern Ontario, OPG is working with the Kiashke Zaaging Anishinaabek (KZA), also known as Gull Bay First Nation, to build a new renewable micro grid that will help reduce the remote community’s dependence on diesel generation.

The micro grid project, which is OPG’s first, will utilize solar panels, lithium-ion batteries for storage, and a control system to help the community offset its diesel usage by more than 100,000 litres per year – roughly 25% of current consumption.

Power stored in the batteries will provide flexible electricity for the KZA community, which is located on the western shore of Lake Nipigon and has an on-reserve population of about 300 people. The community currently relies on diesel generators to provide all of their electricity.

Once completed in spring 2019, KZA will own and operate the facility and OPG will have access to data from the micro grid, which will provide useful “proof of concept” for future micro grid deployments.

Workers near a large solar panel installation.
The Gull Bay micro grid project utilizes solar panels and lithium-ion batteries for storage.