Utilities Challanges

How long will Ontario have an electricity surplus?

The Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO) projects that the province’s surplus will be high through 2020; fall during the Bruce and Darlington nuclear refurbishments from 2021 to 2024; and stay low after the Pickering nuclear station is retired (2024). This projection may assume implementation of some of the methods described in this chapter, such as off-peak electric vehicle (EV) charging. However, the Long-Term Energy Plan does not plan for the increase in low-carbon electricity supply that will be needed to electrify more of the province’s energy sector, as required by Ontario’s climate law. If no other measures are taken, increasing total low-carbon electrical capacity could result in additional off-peak electricity production, i.e., a larger surplus and more curtailment than the IESO predicts. (Source: Environmental Commissioner of Ontario: 2018 Energy Conservation Progress Report, Volume One).

How can Ontario make full use of clean off-peak surplus electricity and prevent it from going to waste?

Instead of curtailing or exporting “surplus” low-carbon off-peak electricity, Ontario should use this power productively within the province. Options include: 

  • Storing surplus power and converting it back to electricity, to return to the grid when needed or to power electric vehicles;
  • Converting surplus electricity to other forms of energy that are easier to store, such as hydrogen, methane, heat, or cold; and/or
  • Allowing Ontario individuals and businesses to buy excess power inexpensively.

These actions can also reduce peak demand. To facilitate these solutions, regulatory changes will be needed to encourage and support technological innovation, particularly in the electricity distribution sector. (Source: Environmental Commissioner of Ontario: 2018 Energy Conservation Progress Report, Volume One).

Storing electricity as heat or cold

Energy storage can also be accomplished (often at a lower cost) by withdrawing surplus electricity from the grid and storing it as heat or cold. Thermal storage is more common around the world (at 3.3 GW) than battery storage (at 1.9 MW).

Examples of thermal storage include: making ice or pre-cooling water for air conditioning (chillers); or heating domestic hot water tanks. Ceramic heaters can use off-peak, nighttime electricity to keep a home warm all day. There is a natural link between Ontario’s need to electrify space and water heating to reduce GHG emissions, and the potential to do so (at least in part) by using surplus off-peak electricity.

Yellow Nine-volt Battery

How BKR Energy can support utilities

BKR Energy smart technology can switch the residential HVAC system load from the furnace to ASHP during off-peak hours. Since ASHPs consume electricity, this results in energy cost saving for householders and supporting utilities by consuming off-peak hour’s clean surplus energy.

Can the app save cost?

Based on APP plans, the electricity rate is extremely low (almost free) for householders during midnight and 6:00 am. As a result, the energy cost saving of BKR Energy switching technology can be manifold.