Alberta's first pumped hydro energy storage project gets green light
The Alberta Utilities Commission has approved Turning Point Generation’s Canyon Creek Pumped Hydro Energy Storage Project, making it the first large-scale energy storage project approved in that province.
“The AUC’s approval is also a first for pumped hydro energy storage in Alberta,” said Kipp Horton, President & CEO of Turning Point’s parent company, WindRiver Power Corporation, “and we believe that the Canyon Creek project is a solid lead project of this type.”
According to Horton, pumped hydro energy storage will be a critical feature of Alberta’s electricity grid as the grid accommodates increasing production from renewable generation, particularly large-scale wind.
“The intermittent and variable nature of renewables requires a complementary source of responsive and reliable generation to balance the system in real time” said Horton. “Pumped hydro is a proven storage technology, deployed globally for decades, that accomplishes this balancing function, efficiently, sustainably and on a meaningful scale.”
The 75 MW Canyon Creek project, capable of supplying power for up to 37 hours at full output, is located near Hinton, Alta., and utilizes existing site infrastructure from a decommissioned open pit coal mine.
The project’s principal elements are an upper storage pond, a receiving pond located 500 metres lower, a large-diameter pipe (penstock) connecting the two ponds and a powerhouse and pump station at the lowest end of the penstock that house both turbine-generators and high-volume pumps.
The storage capacity of the upper pond is subsequently restored by reversing the flow and pumping water from the lower pond back to the upper. This closed-loop, off-stream design significantly reduces any potential adverse environmental impacts to Alberta’s natural river courses.
The timing of the Canyon Creek project also coincides with the introduction of a “capacity market” in Alberta; a market that, in the view of Peter Bubik, lead of technical developments at Turning Point, is well-suited to the project.
“We’re excited about the potential of this made-in-Alberta storage solution to offer a variety of products and benefits to the grid and electricity consumers. We’re also very proud of the contribution the project will make to the local and regional economies, including substantial capital investments, near-term development and construction jobs and long-term operations and maintenance jobs,” Bubik added. “We first started studies on site in early 2016 and we’ve been extremely pleased with the support from the local communities and businesses.”
Turning Point Generation is a subsidiary of WindRiver Power Corporation. WindRiver is engaged in the development, ownership and operation of renewable energy projects in Western Canada and internationally, with a focus on run-of-river hydro, wind generation and now, through Turning Point, pumped hydro energy storage.