• NII

Energy storage powered by Ontario's nuclear assets: a made-in-Ontario pathway to net zero

Updated: Jan 27

New report explores how large-scale energy storage in combination with clean electricity from Bruce Power presents a $4-billion opportunity for Bruce, Grey and Huron counties

Ontario will need investment in vast new energy storage capacity in combination with clean power from nuclear generation to meet its increasing clean energy demands in the coming years. This need will also provide a historic opportunity for the region to attract more than four billion dollars of investment and thousands of jobs.

“Being able to store clean baseload energy from nuclear and draw upon that reserve when required is essential to match changes in electricity demand,” says Chad Richards, Director of the Bruce Power Centre for New Nuclear & Net Zero Partnerships at the Nuclear Innovation Institute (NII).

“Fortunately, there are plenty of made-in-Ontario solutions to fulfill our need for energy storage, including some right here in our region,” he said, pointing to the proposed Ontario Pumped Storage project in Meaford, among others.

That’s the key takeaway from Store of Value, a new report by NII which found that the ability to store energy generated by low-carbon sources like nuclear provides the assurance of clean, reliable electricity on demand. The Clean Energy Frontier of Bruce, Grey and Huron counties is therefore perfectly positioned to create new energy storage capacity by leveraging the investments being made to extend the life of the reactors at Bruce Power with the flexibility that TC Energy’s proposed pumped storage project in Meaford would provide.


“We echo the Nuclear Innovation Institute’s report that highlights the need for new energy storage capacity,” said Corey Hessen, executive vice president, TC Energy, and president, Power, Storage & Commercial Marketing. “TC Energy is committed to helping Ontario and all of Canada meet clean energy goals. We plan to invest $4.3 billion to develop a zero-emissions pumped hydro storage project that will provide the ability to store power, all while meeting the highest environmental and community standards and creating jobs.”


Examining the important role that energy storage technologies will play in electricity grids on a pathway to a net-zero future, the study makes clear that these technologies operate best in systems with a steady supply of clean, baseload electricity—like in Ontario with its reliable supply of emissions-free nuclear power.


“As we meet the challenge of providing clean, safe, and reliable electricity to all Ontarians as demand increases, we’ll need to look closely at all options on the table,” said Bill Walker, MPP for Bruce-Grey-Owen Sound. “Made-in-Ontario solutions that provide good value to ratepayers and leverage our existing assets, like our province’s nuclear sector and the associated sustainability of producing life-saving isotopes, will be ever-important in the coming years.”

The combination of nuclear and increased levels of energy storage would give electricity system operators a clean alternative to the current practice of using gas-fired electricity generation facilities to back-up intermittent sources like wind and solar and meeting peak demand, creating an on-demand supply of clean energy.

“The Clean Energy Frontier region of Bruce, Grey and Huron is already a leader in clean energy production and storage. From the clean nuclear power produced at the Bruce site, to NRStor and Hyrdostor’s compressed air energy storage facility near Goderich, our region has an outstanding track record for clean energy innovation. This report makes it clear that we have even more reason to be excited for future opportunities,” said the Hon. Lisa Thompson, MPP for Huron-Bruce.


Bruce Power also expressed its support for the report’s findings, as they align with both the nuclear generation from the site and also with 2021’s launch of Bruce Power Net Zero. Both support complementary technologies to nuclear power that will enable a net-zero future. “Bruce Power’s nuclear output is a backbone of Ontario’s clean electricity grid, providing the province with stable, reliable, emissions-free baseload electricity,” said James Scongack, Chief Development Officer and Executive Vice-President Operational Services.

“NII’s report makes clear that pairing clean baseload electricity—such as that produced at Bruce Power—with proven energy storage solutions and infrastructure like pumped storage and battery technologies, provides a once-in-a-generation opportunity to both tackle climate change and attract a $4-billion opportunity and thousands of jobs to the region,” added Scongack.

The report also found:

  • Clean storage projects like the proposed Ontario Pumped Storage Project in Meaford are made-in-Ontario solutions. The fundamental elements of the project technology are water reservoirs, a powerhouse and substation—requiring little need for sourcing materials produced or processed in other parts of the world. This differs from other technologies like large-scale batteries, which currently rely on international supply chains and imported materials.

  • New energy storage projects would continue to bolster the Clean Energy Frontier region of Bruce, Grey and Huron as a clean energy leader and optimize the regional assets already producing and storing electricity for the province. Home to Bruce Power, this area provides Ontario with more than 30% of its electricity in the form of emissions-free nuclear power.

  • Energy storage helps maximize the value of Ontario’s surplus electricity, creating ratepayer benefits. More than 20% of all supply from wind and solar resources was curtailed in 2020. Rather than shut down or lower output from these sources when supply outpaces demand, longer-term storage would hold energy until electricity can either be exported at an advantageous price or used to avoid carbon emissions from natural gas plants.

“These findings demonstrate that the path to a net-zero future in Ontario and Canada runs through the Clean Energy Frontier region of Bruce, Grey and Huron counties,” said John Peevers, Co-Chair of the Clean Energy Frontier program at NII. “Leveraging our strategic position on the grid, our existing base of nuclear generation, a regionalized energy supply chain and storage projects that are under development presents a historic opportunity for our communities.”


Read the report here: bit.ly/NII-Reports-Store-of-Value.


Learn more about the work of the Centre for New Nuclear & Net Zero Partnerships at nii.ca/net-zero-partnerships.