Diversity guarantees reliability for Ontario grid

Diversity guarantees reliability for Ontario grid

Much of Canada is looking to invest in renewable energy, and Ontario has found that added solar and wind resources are helping to create a reliable grid and transmission network.

The latest 18-month outlook from the Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO) found that there will be adequate resources for generation to meet demand in the province until at least December 2016. This is in part to 2,200 megawatts (MW) of new supply, mostly from wind and solar generation, that is expected to be added to the province's grid between July 2015 and December 2016.

IESO spokesperson Martine Holmsen told Smart Grid News that "Ontario has always had a very diverse supply mix. Once we moved to incorporate more renewables into the system it became even more diverse. We very much view a diverse supply mix as being very valuable for the system, given the different operating characteristics of each fuel type, it gives you more diversity into how you operate the system."

Anywhere from 1,500 MW of wind is expected to be added to the grid in that time -- bringing the total to around 4,500 MW. Around 380 MW of solar capacity is expected to be added to the grid in that time, adding to the current capacity of 2,200 MW of solar capacity on the grid.

Holmsen explained that they look at renewables like wind and solar because of their operating characteristics, as well as what they can bring to the system -- including increased reliability.

Ontario has an interesting energy history and environment -- due in part to Niagara Falls. Energy in the province started with hydropower, but over the years added coal, nuclear, natural gas, biomass, and in 2007, added other renewables like wind and solar. In 2014, they retired their last coal facility.

Last month, ISEO signed a 500 MW seasonal firm capacity sharing agreement with Hydro Quebec Energy Marketing, that will allow IESO and the utility to share their energy resources seasonally -- since they have complementary peak seasons.

"Ontario's electricity system is well positioned to handle demand and supply variations, whether it is due to summer peaking or increased variable renewable generation," said Kim Warren, IESO's Vice-President of Market and System Operations, in a statement. "Ongoing changes to our forecasting and control room processes over the past few years have put us in a good position and given us greater flexibility to handle these variations."

Ontario is expecting a surplus baseload generation conditions in the next 18 months because of the added capacity, as well as a decline in demand because of local generation sources. However, IESO said existing market mechanisms will manage these issues.

Source: Smart Grid News

Smart Grid Bulletin February 2019

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