Over the next 18 months, solar energy and demand response will have a growing and noticeable impact on the Ontario power grid, working to reduce summer peaks and help meet the province's overall energy needs, said the Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO) in its latest 18-month outlook. By the end of 2014, almost 1,900 megawatts (MW) of solar generation and an estimated 900 MW of demand response from large consumers will be available to support reliability, particularly through the summer months.
"Ontario's power system has changed dramatically over the past number of years, with a much greater diversity of generators and new forms of supply - such as solar generation and demand response - entering the market," said Bruce Campbell, IESO President and Chief Executive Officer. "Operation of the power system today is more complex than in years past, but with the right information and the right tools, it continues to be managed reliably and efficiently."
The 18-Month Outlook anticipates adequate generation and transmission capability to support system reliability over the next year and a half. Peak demands in summer and winter should not pose any province-wide reliability concerns, even under extreme weather conditions.
Ontario's first transmission-connected solar projects will come online over the next 18 months. When added with solar generators on low-voltage networks, these facilities will combine to generate 2.2 terawatt hours (TWh) of annual electricity - enough to power Guelph and Woodstock - by the end of 2014. That embedded generation will reduce demand for electricity from the transmission grid - particularly during the summer when air conditioning use is at its highest.
Summer peaks are also being impacted by consumers cutting back their energy use in response to conservation initiatives, time-of-use rates, market prices and other incentives. Large energy users - such as factories, universities or hospitals - who are eligible for the Global Adjustment Allocation will play a notable role in that drop, reducing their electricity consumption on the hottest days of the summer.
Ontario's power grid is also expected to encounter more frequent instances of surplus baseload generation in the spring and summer seasons of 2013 and 2014. This is due to multiple factors, including lower off-peak demand for electricity, increased nuclear capacity and more renewable generation. IESO system operators manage surplus baseload generation through a range of tools and processes - including exports, manoeuvering nuclear units and, beginning in September 2013, dispatching wind generators. The IESO already has in place other efforts - such as centralized wind forecasting and increased visibility of embedded generation output - that will provide greater operational awareness and efficiency in running the system.
Also from the 18-Month Outlook:
- Lambton and Nanticoke coal generating units are expected to be removed from the grid by the end of 2013, ending coal generation in Southern Ontario.
- The first of four expanded hydro stations on the Lower Mattagami is expected to come into service by the end of Q2 2014.
- 3,300 MW of grid-scale wind, solar and biomass projects are expected to be added to the system over the next 18 months. Of that, a record 1,100 MW of new wind capacity will be added during the summer of 2014.
The IESO regularly assesses the adequacy and reliability of Ontario's power system. The 18-Month Outlook is issued on a quarterly basis and is available at http://www.ieso.ca/imoweb/pubs/marketReports/18MonthOutlook_2013may.pdf.