Low-cost wind energy can provide innovative solutions for reliable, flexible, non-emitting electricity
March 19, 2018
Wind industry encouraged to participate in IESO Request for Information about how non-emitting resources can participate in current and future markets
Ontario’s wind energy sector has a unique opportunity to make an impact on the decision-making that will determine the future direction of electricity development in the province.
The Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO), which recognizes that its long-term strategy must take the province’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emission reduction targets into account, has set up a Non-Emitting Resource Sub-Committee (NERSC) to investigate how renewables can participate in the future electricity market. The NERSC is asking companies for input, to help inform its recommendations to the broader Market Renewal Working Group.
On March 21, 2018, the IESO issued a Request for Information (RFI) that will remain open until May 4, 2018. This is an important chance for wind industry participants to show that low-cost, utility-scale wind energy can provide innovative solutions to help the IESO meet its objectives for providing reliable, flexible, low-cost and non-emitting electricity. Industry input is especially important in the current environment, because the proposed shift to incremental capacity auctions (ICA) are likely to boost GHG emissions from Ontario’s grid, so mechanisms to include low-emission sources are needed to balance the reliance on the ICA for supply adequacy.
The Canadian Wind Energy Association (CanWEA) was instrumental in prompting the IESO to set up the NERSC, as part of the association’s efforts to ensure that sustainable energy production continues to play a role in the evolving electricity grid. To underline why non-emitting resources can, and should, feature in the future energy marketplace in Ontario, it is crucial that wind industry players participate in the NERSC and RFI.
Essentially, the NERSC aims to understand what barriers are in place that currently make it difficult for non-emitting resources to participate in the market. It also wants to hear what kind of incentives could be put in place to set a value on renewables’ environmental attributes. The subcommittee will also look at the reliability issues that might arise when there are more variable resources on the grid, and how sustained negative pricing affects market efficiency. And, crucially, NERSC is looking for evidence that the market can be designed to add non-emitting generation without increasing costs to customers. Ontario is tackling these issues at a time when other markets are also exploring and implementing innovative solutions to managing costs and emissions and it will be important to draw on the experiences of other jurisdictions to design a made-for-Ontario system.
Therefore, wind industry input, through the RFI, is critical to making sure our voices are heard and our technology is profiled accordingly. At this point the RFI is asking players mainly about the characteristics of their existing and planned projects, including energy profiles, capacity, availability, ramping ability and other technical attributes.
Ontario’s planning process is essential if the province’s electricity grid is going to operate at the lowest possible cost, while continuing to maintain low GHG emissions. Wind energy will clearly have a role as nuclear units are retired or refurbished, prices are imposed on carbon emissions, and new electricity demand from things like electric cars become a bigger factor. CanWEA will continue to make the case for the integration of renewables, and there is also an important role for individual wind sector participants to help the IESO make informed decisions in meeting its objectives. We encourage the wind industry to contribute to the RFI in advance of its closing on May 4 so this process is successful in helping the IESO better understand how non-emitting resources can participate in current and future markets.
Want to learn more? Check out these blogs about wind energy in Ontario.
Photo by Helloquence
Ontario Regional Director at the Canadian Wind Energy Association