NRStor planning to expand capacity at Harriston energy storage facility

MINTO – NRStor Inc. is making plans to upgrade its groundbreaking energy storage facility in Harriston.

The Mississauga-based company, which currently operates a flywheel energy storage and solar generation facility in the Harriston Industrial Park, intends to bid on a contract with the Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO) to supply additional storage capacity.

In 2014 the company opened a two-megawatt flywheel energy storage system on a one-acre lot in the industrial park.

The technology provides on-demand capacity similar to technologies like gas-fired generators. The stored energy is applied to the IESO grid as needed to help balance the intermittent nature of emerging renewable technologies.

The facility was the first grid-connected commercial flywheel facility in Canada.

Flywheels are installed in cast-in-place concrete vaults that extend about 20 feet below grade.

These and the supporting equipment are housed in 7,500-square foot fabricated steel building. The facility is run remotely, with no employees on site.

In 2021, NRStor Inc. added a 50kW rooftop solar array to complement the flywheel energy storage system, creating the first such hybrid facility in Ontario.

NRStor’s contract with the IESO for the flywheel facility is currently set to expire in early 2023.

At the same time, the IESO has identified a large need for energy storage in Ontario and is launching a procurement process to secure up to 2,500MW of new energy storage projects in the province.

Correspondence from the company presented at the Nov. 1 Minto council meeting indicates NRStor aims to redevelop the Minto Energy Storage site to incorporate a new battery energy storage project “that will provide the longer duration energy storage services that the Ontario grid needs today.”

NRStor is expecting to receive the results of a deliverability test from the IESO by Nov. 30 in order to confirm what size of a project can be built at the Minto site.

The new project is expected to utilize lithium ion battery energy storage technology (similar to the batteries used in cellphones and laptops), NRStor officials note.

The company plans to enter an RFP for the project, which should be completed by the end of February, with the target of launching commercial operations between May 1, 2025 and May 1, 2026.

NRStor is seeking a resolution of support of the Town of Minto for the development and plans to send representatives to the Dec. 6 council meeting to discuss the project.

The company is also planning to discuss new project plans at a public meeting in early December.

Economic and community development director Belinda Wick-Graham told council that staff have responded to the company with questions about matters such as assessment, fire safety and site screening.

Town officials anticipate “a fulsome report” at the Dec. 6 meeting.

“This is a super-innovative company – and energy, as we all know, is going to be important for climate change stuff,” said Wick-Graham.

“So it’s pretty interesting to see what comes forward out of this.”

The facility doesn’t generate local employment, but it does add to the industrial assessment base.

And Mayor George Bridge pointed out the facility has drawn people from around the world to town.

“People jet in from all over the world. And they go to Hanover airport with … a private jet, and they take a limo down to our little town,” Bridge stated.

“And so we’ve got a lot of exposure over this … people know that Minto is on the map because of this.”

Council received the report for information.