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The ThinkEnergy podcast features conversations that focus on the fast-changing world of energy. We explore through a communications lens, some of the coolest trends, emerging technologies and latest innovations within the energy sector. We seek to understand how these game changers bring their ideas to market and demystify their concepts.

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Nov 9, 2020

Does energy storage hold great potential for a Canada in which wind and solar power could dominate new power plant additions and gradually overtake other sources of electricity? How can energy storage make up for the current limitations of renewables? Find out if energy storage, particularly electricity storage, is the missing piece in the renewables jigsaw as Justin Rangooni, Executive director of Energy Storage Canada, shares his perspective.

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Transcript:

Dan Seguin  00:42

Hey, everyone, welcome back. This is the ThinkEnergy podcast. If you're following energy trends around the world, you've likely heard about energy storage. It's a big topic, and there's a lot to unpack. While there are many types of systems to store energy, I think it's easiest to think of energy storage as the battery that you use to capture energy when it's produced, so you can use it at another time, perhaps when energy isn't available, like during a power outage. With renewable energy continuing to grow in Canada, where does energy storage fit? You have to wonder if energy storage will become the new power plants of the future. One thing is certain energy storage will play an important role in the future supply mix for electricity, most obviously, in creating a more flexible and reliable grid system. For example, when there is more supply than demand, such as during the night when energy costs are lower and power plants continue to operate, the surplus electricity generation can be sent to power energy storage systems, instead of being sold at a loss or going to waste. While wind and solar are great. They can only produce energy at a certain time. This reality has been a barrier for mass integration into modern electricity grids. Since the constant availability of reliable power is paramount to the country and our economy, a complimentary technology like energy storage could help fill the gap for managing today's renewables. Synergies between wind energy, solar energy and energy storage also mean that these technologies can provide a broader range of services to the grid when used in a coordinated manner that reduce overall electricity systems costs, such as building new and expensive generating plants. But at what scale are we at for energy storage today? And where is it headed in the near future? Is there a strategy and evidence that energy storage is a solution we're looking for? In short, where is Canada at on the energy storage journey to adoption? This leads me to today's big question: is energy storage the missing piece in the renewables jigsaw puzzle? And the solution for Canada's energy needs? Joining me today is a very special guest. Justin Rangooni, the executive director at energy storage Canada, who's here to help us unbox the energy storage mystery. Justin, welcome to the ThinkEnergy podcast. Justin, can you tell us a bit about yourself? What energy storage is and what your organization Energy Storage Canada does what it's all about?

Justin Rangooni  04:04

Of course, Daniel, and thanks for having me on the chat. Always glad to chat with you and see our friends at Hydro Ottawa. Again, well, Energy Storage Canada is the National voice for energy storage. We are the only Association dedicated to advancing energy storage in the country. We have over 60 members from across the energy storage value chain from the biggest global companies to the most innovative startups. And we develop policy positions, advocate and educate decision makers and host educational and networking opportunities through webinars and our annual conference. We're basically energy storage 24 / 7, 365 days a year.

Dan Seguin  04:43

Cool. Okay, at a high level, what are we talking about in terms of large scale or grid scale energy storage? What sizes are available? How long can the energy be stored for and is the goal to power cities for days or weeks?

Justin Rangooni  05:02

Not a good question again, what makes energy storage so unique is the varying degrees of sizes, capabilities and technologies. In terms of larger grid scale, you know, we're talking about projects in the hundreds up to 1000 megawatts. But energy storage projects can be in the kilowatts as well, it all depends on the project and where it's located. And depending on the discharge rate of how much energy is injected back into the grid, it could be a couple hours or even more, again, all depends on the technology and the capabilities. And the goal for the sector is really to optimize generation, optimize distribution and transmission assets, provide the grid with reliable service and support the goal of affordability for all ratepayers.

Dan Seguin  05:45

Okay, Tesla made a splash back in 2015, with its announcement of the power wall system, essentially small scale energy storage for homes, has there been any movement in this area?

Justin Rangooni  06:00

So that is definitely the wave of the future as customers demand more choice and control of their energy needs. So small scale energy storage for homes will be getting there, especially as you see increased prevalence of electric vehicles and rooftop solar systems, residential storage systems, you know, as using the EV battery itself, and in hibernating with the source solar system would be in lockstep. What you're seeing a lot now in Ontario is behind the meter storage devices for large industrial customers, which are helping manage their consumption. So it's getting there. But right now, it's not quite but we are getting there into the small scale.

Dan Seguin  06:41

Okay. Justin, can you explain what the clean energy goals are for the energy storage sector? What types of policies at the municipal provincial federal level need to be in place to succeed?

Justin Rangooni  06:57

Sure, so our clean energy goals are to optimize cleaner sources of generation and to help with the energy transition are such talking really, a lot of other provinces are still relying on coal especially, and planning the transition away. So what we say is that we can optimize your existing cleaner assets, variable generation or otherwise, by having storage within the system. So you may you do not necessarily need to build new, dirtier forms of generation, you can use energy storage, to twin with your cleaner sources actually have. And in terms to do that, we're talking about removal of barriers, market opportunities, and just the general sense that energy storage resources are a mainstream tool for system operators to use.

Dan Seguin  07:44

Moving on to the question, Justin, on how can Canada unlock the potential of the energy storage?

Justin Rangooni  07:54

And that is the key question. And it was the focus of our annual conference recently. And in fact, it was the title of a valuation study we did for Ontario that we released this summer, which concluded that if the province had at least 1000 megawatts of energy storage enabled in the province, over the next decade, ratepayers would enjoy a net savings of over $2 billion. And to unlock that potential, again, it comes down to the removal of regulatory barriers, to fully enable energy storage, and its value offerings, and the creation of market opportunities. And again, for system operators to start to see things a little differently, see energy storage as a tool to be used. And that can be applied to the distribution side as well, that instead of traditional poles and wires, or traditional generation sources that you look at energy storage, which is a bit of a jack of all trades, or a Swiss Army knife to provide various service offerings for you. And so it's starting to see things a little differently with energy storage index.

Dan Seguin  08:56

Now, the Canadian government recently announced a $10 billion infrastructure investment plan and specifically mentioned it would support both renewable and energy storage. What are your thoughts on the government plans?

Justin Rangooni  09:16

So we were very supportive of that we're supportive of anything that comes from the federal government in terms of helping with the economics of energy storage projects or helping facilitate energy storage projects across the country. So with the announcement from the Canada's infrastructure bank, which is about a $2.5 billion funding initiative, we are very supportive and we look forward to working with the CIV on details. And we're looking forward to an upcoming federal budget which we hope will include even more funding opportunities, grants, and other types of programs for our energy storage going forward.

Dan Seguin  09:51

Okay, what has been the impact of the pandemic on energy on the energy storage industry?

Justin Rangooni  10:00

Well as with everything in every sector, it's the uncertainty that it has caused with what decisions can be made by the government decision makers that could have unintended consequences. For instance, in Ontario, their decision earlier this year to place a hiatus on the ICI program, the industrial conservation initiative, we have what it calls an unintended consequence of the decision because I put a lot of projects that were about to be built behind the meter on hold. So we understand what, you know, the challenges the government is facing to make decisions around the pandemic. We just hope that I think it's just it's stressed the importance of communication to understand how everybody could be affected by those decisions. So we are working with the government to ensure that no, we're here talk to us, we're here to help. Let's try to find a nice path forward to help with the economic recovery coming out of this pandemic, hopefully, in a not so distant future.

Dan Seguin  10:57

Okay. Do you see the development and scaling of energy storage solution being imperative to successful transformation of the energy sector and the electricity grid? If so, how do you see energy storage accelerating in the years to come?

Justin Rangooni  11:19

I think it's the latter question that is really key. Because we're seeing energy storage accelerating throughout the energy system across Canada. And we're talking about from residential use electric vehicles use as a battery to the continued use of behind the meter for large for large customers, more hybrid projects to better optimize current assets to transmission and distribution, deferral. So we're really looking at the entire gamut for energy storage is role to be played. And it really again depends on those market opportunities and removing barriers to really unlock energy storage's potential.

Dan Seguin  11:52

Given the grid expertise of utilities, what role will they play in the energy storage field?

Justin Rangooni  12:00

So we see that as the role being absolutely critical, as utility or utility members that we have ourselves we view they view energy storage as an essential tool as part of their system planning. And we believe all distributors and all utilities across the country will do as well. And we expect to see the only enhancement of energy storage resources as  a tool as an alternative to traditional poles and wires for utilities, which can better optimize utilities, investments in their poles and wires, and help with ratepayers affordability issues as well, by using storage, which is a cheaper alternative, in many cases to just building the status quo.

Dan Seguin  12:40

Okay, Justin, it's now time to pull up your crystal ball with plans to further electrify public transportation and promote urban intensification, do you think that utilities are likely to account for a large share of battery energy storage in Canada?

Justin Rangooni  12:58

So I'll get the crystal ball. I think the use of energy storage resources and the distribution level is inevitable. And that's a good thing. So I think we'll be seeing utilities utilizing energy storage resources in front and behind the meter in much greater share than they are doing now. I think with the removal of regulatory barriers, and just a more general sense that seeing energy storage as a tool for utilities to use, I think we're going to see a lot greater share. And that's a really good thing for the utilities, ratepayers and the system as a whole.

Dan Seguin  13:32

Now, the next question is a mouthful, the economic value of energy storage is closely tied to other major trends impacting today's Power System, most notably the increasing penetration of wind and solar generation. How does battery storage help make better use of electricity system assets? Can it defer or even eliminate unnecessary investments in capital intensive assets, like building new and expensive generating plants to meet our country's forecasted energy needs?

Justin Rangooni  14:08

So yeah, that was a mouthful. And I think the response is really short. I think, yes, it can. And it's one of the major value propositions of energy storage. Depending on the business case, and again, the technology you're using beyond just batteries, because energy storage could be compressed air facilities could be flywheels, pumped storage, and thermal storage. There are many different technologies available. And depending on the business case being used, you could see it as a deferment, or in place of building traditional generation, or, the deferment of just building traditional poles and wires, for instance, it all depends on the business case, but again, because it's a tool, that's what we're trying to say is have that as a tool so you can see if it is the better alternative.

Dan Seguin  14:56

Now, are you ready to close us off with some rest rapid fire questions.

Justin Rangooni  15:01

Of course! Those are my favorite.

Dan Seguin  15:04

Okay, well, what is your favorite word?

Justin Rangooni  15:08

Cookies

Dan Seguin  15:10

Okay, what is the one thing you can't live without?

Justin Rangooni  15:15

Cookies?

Dan Seguin  15:18

Okay, what habit or hobby? Have you picked up during shelter-in-place?

Justin Rangooni  15:25

Well, it would be cutting my own hair and cutting my son's hair. Okay, I thought you were going to say baking cookies. Oh, baking cookies. There you go. Okay.

Dan Seguin  15:36

If you could have one superpower, what would it be?

Justin Rangooni  15:40

Oh, I would say flying, we can skip the airport lines. That would be the best.

Dan Seguin  15:45

If you could turn back time and talk to your 18 year old self. What would you tell him?

Justin Rangooni  15:52

Well, I would say get your sleep in now. Because with three kids that is definitely in short supply.

Dan Seguin  16:00

Good, good one. And lastly, what do you currently find most interesting in your sector?

Justin Rangooni  16:08

Well, I think the most interesting thing is the endless opportunities for innovation and creativity. Energy Storage being a tool that can be used by utilities like customers by the system operators. The possibilities are endless with energy storage. That's what makes the sector so exciting.

Dan Seguin  16:28

Well, Justin, we've reached the end of another episode, I think energy podcasts. Last question for you. How can our listeners learn more about you and energy storage Canada? How can they connect?

Justin Rangooni  16:43

That is the best question of the day. They can look at our website at energystoragecanada.org all the information is there of who we are what we do. Joining up for memberships Of course, you can see our all our publications and our submissions. All the and there's a lot of great information up there. So check out energystoragecanada.org.

Dan Seguin  17:05

Cool. Again, thank you for joining me today. I hope you had a lot of fun.

Justin Rangooni  17:09

Sure did, Daniel. Thanks so much for the opportunity.

Dan Seguin  17:14

Thank you for joining us today. I truly hope you enjoyed this episode of The ThinkEnergy podcast. For past episodes, make sure you visit our website hydroottawa.com/podcast. Lastly, if you found value in this podcast, be sure to subscribe. Anyway, this podcast is a wrap. Cheers, everyone.