Canadian Biomass Magazine

NRCan kicks in $16.7 million to help Ontario decarbonize electricity grid

April 9, 2024
By Canadian Biomass Staff

With funding support from the federal government, Ontario’s grid operator is expanding its efforts to take advantage of the rapid growth of energy storage, hybrid generation/storage facilities and small-scale electricity resources to help meet the province’s future electricity needs.

Natural Resources Canada (NRCan) is providing up to $16.7 million to the Independent Electricity System Operator’s (IESO) Enabling Resources Program. This funding will help the IESO expand its work to tap into new and emerging technologies to help meet Ontario’s energy needs reliably and cost effectively, while advancing grid decarbonization.

Small-scale forms of supply are eligible to participate in IESO procurements, including the next procurement for hydro, wind, solar and biofuel supply, which will launch this year.

“Innovation is central to the energy transition,” said Lesley Gallinger, President and CEO of the IESO. “We have already made significant progress in preparing for greater decentralization and diversification to accommodate greater numbers of energy storage, hybrids and community-based energy projects on the grid.”


“This funding will help us increase our efforts and integrate the substantial amount of new clean energy projects that, in just a few years’ time, will be ready to help power homes and businesses across the province.”

“Ensuring access to affordable, reliable, clean electricity is a critical step in driving down emissions and seizing the economic opportunities that will be enabled through the shift to a clean economy,” said Jonathan Wilkinson, Minister of Energy and Natural Resources, Canada. “Canada has one of the cleanest electricity grids in the world and we are continuing to invest, innovate and collaborate to maintain and strengthen this competitive advantage. Today’s investment is an important part of these efforts and will help ensure that people and businesses in Ontario can continue to have access to affordable, reliable and clean electricity well into the future.”

By 2026, the IESO will enhance its grid operations to make it easier for these emerging resources to provide energy and other grid services to the province. Some improvements that will be made possible through this funding include:

  • Providing the IESO’s Control Centre with real-time data about the state of charge of battery storage facilities, so that electricity system operators are aware of how much stored energy is available at any given moment
  • Enabling aggregators to consolidate smaller resources in different municipalities around the province to bid as one into Ontario’s electricity markets
  • Including supply as small as 100 kW in Ontario’s electricity markets (e.g. a manufacturing plant’s rooftop solar array).

“Our government has been putting shovels in the ground to build new electricity generation and storage, including the largest procurement of clean energy storage projects in Canada’s history,” said Todd SmithOntario Minister of Energy. “Today’s investment will help accelerate the work Ontario’s expert planners are already doing to integrate these energy storage projects and other innovative technologies into our grid to help power new homes and businesses across the province.”

Ontario’s energy needs are expected to increase by 40 per cent over the next two decades. As the IESO’s Pathways to Decarbonization report identified, integrating new and emerging technologies will be critical to help fill the supply gap while contributing to a decarbonized electricity system.

Fast facts

  • Through its Enabling Resources Program, the IESO will invest an estimated $48 million in system upgrades and processes to enable emerging clean resources to more fully participate in Ontario’s electricity market, increasing the amount and diversity of supply.
  • In 2023, the IESO announced procurements for 2,500 MW of battery storage, which are scheduled for completion mid-decade. By 2028, the IESO expects that there will be 3,000 MW of storage capacity in the system.
  • Small-scale forms of supply are eligible to participate in IESO procurements, including the next procurement for hydro, wind, solar and biofuel supply, which will launch this year.
  • The IESO has set out a roadmap to tap into the potential of community-based energy projects to help meet local and provincial energy needs. This includes finding ways to use locally-based forms of supply and energy conservation initiatives to act as an alternative to building new electricity system infrastructure, such as large power plants and transmission lines.

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