Kingston Council to consider new regional advanced compressed air energy storage facility

Air compression components of a Hydrostor Advanced Compressed Air Energy Storage facility. Photo via Hydrostor website.

On Tuesday, Jul. 11, 2023, Lanie Hurdle, Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) of the City of Kingston, will present a report to Kingston City Council recommending that Kingston provide support in principle to the proposed Quinte Energy Storage Centre (Quinte ESC) project.

Based on information provided to the City by David Fell, President and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Utilities Kingston, the Quinte ESC project is a partnership between Hydrostor Inc. (Hydrostor) and Potentia Renewables Inc. (PRI), along with Utilities Kingston and in collaboration with the Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte. According to the report, the proposal purports to create “an innovative solution for Ontario’s impending energy capacity and reliability requirements” in the form of an Advanced Compressed Air Energy Storage (A-CAES) facility, strategically located in Greater Napanee near the Lennox Generating Station. 

Compressed-air energy storage (CAES) is a way to store energy for later use, using compressed air. Doing so allows energy generated during periods of low demand to be stored for release during peak load periods. 

Utilities Kingston suggests in the report that there are three key benefits for Kingston if the City chooses to participate in this project.

First, it must be noted that in 2019, the City of Kingston became the first Ontario municipality to declare that climate change is an emergency requiring an urgent and strategic response. Accordingly, the Utilities Kingston Strategic Plan for the 2021-2025 period included the goal of supporting the City of Kingston as a climate action leader. 

The Quinte ESC is anticipated to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by a minimum of 90,000 tonnes annually, and the report suggests that this project will be a significant leap forward in Ontario’s future grid, providing long-term replacement capacity for the Lennox Generating Station while becoming an integral pillar of Ontario’s long-term energy security and sustainability. 

According to the report, the partners behind the project have engaged geotechnical, interconnection, economic development, technology, and electricity market consultants to further validate the project, “the results of which have all reiterated the benefits and suitability of this exciting opportunity for the Province of Ontario.”

An aerial view of the Hydrostor Advanced Compressed Air Energy Storage facility in Goderich, Ontario. Photo via Hydrostor website.

Second, an economic assessment estimates that the Quinte ESC would support around $1.43 billion in Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in Ontario, and an additional $222 million in Canada more broadly, over its four-year construction period. Quinte ESC would also directly create around 670 high-value jobs in Ontario during its four-year construction phase and 40 permanent local jobs during operations, according to the CAO’s report.

Third, the report says Quinte ESC is strategically positioned to fill a looming capacity gap of over 4,100 MW in Eastern Ontario — a gap identified in The Independent Electricity System Operator’s (IESO) 2022 Annual Acquisition Report (AAR) — by offering a reliable, non-emitting capacity source that maximizes Ontario’s existing generating, electricity imports, and transmission infrastructure. The project would contribute 500 MW of capacity and eight hours of storage duration for continuous discharge onto the Ontario grid. 

Beyond requesting the City of Kingston’s support of the project, the CAO’s report recommends that Council request that Utilities Kingston provide periodic updates on the Quinte ESC project at future Council or shareholder meetings.

Kingston City Council meets at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Jul. 11, 2023, in the Council Chambers of Kingston City Hall, located at 216 Ontario Street. The full agenda for the meeting can be read on the City of Kingston website. Council meetings are open to the public, and can also be streamed online live, or watched back afterwards, on the Kingston City Council YouTube channel.

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