I would like to provide a response to Charles Killin’s letter to the editor on October 19, 2023, with the intent of clarifying the role of the Ontario Pumped Storage Project and why it will help Ontario transition to an emissions-free electricity system.
Over the coming years, Ontario’s electricity demand is expected to increase. We also know that the province would like to transition away from fossil-fuel power generation. In order for a future emission-free electricity system to be realized, significant amounts of long duration storage will be needed.
As we come to rely on emission-free power generation, such as nuclear, wind and hydro, the reality is that these sources of energy often generate excess electricity when it is not needed, and they do not always generate enough power when consumers need it most. This is where the Ontario Pumped Storage Project can help. Charles is correct, the Ontario Pumped Storage Project is not an electricity generator. It uses water and gravity to store electricity until consumers need it, at which time it is delivered back to Ontario’s power grid.
The Project would use excess electricity to pump water uphill into a reservoir – this is excess electricity that would otherwise be wasted or exported. As a result of using excess electricity, we are turning a 100 per cent loss into a 75 to 78 per cent gain for the benefit of Ontario consumers and the environment. It is important to recognize that all forms of energy storage have some losses – however the expected round-trip efficiency of pumped storage (75 to 78 per cent) is very competitive against the lifecycle efficiency of other technologies.
When demand for energy is high, the province can call upon the Ontario Pumped Storage Project to deliver clean energy to the people and businesses who need it. Once operational, the Project will deliver enough non-emitting electricity to power one million homes for eleven hours a day – all while optimizing our existing clean electricity assets to support residents and businesses across the province.
John Mikkelsen, P.Eng. M.A.Sc.