Ontario news: Grid storage project, acquisitions and Vestas

Mississauga-based Electrovaya Inc., maker of lithium-ion Superpolymer batteries, is supplying batteries for a utility-scale energy storage project being spearheaded by CEATI International Inc. of Montreal, an advanced technology centre for utilities. The $7.5 million project will be a large-scale initiative involving multiple utilities and sites. The batteries will be tested as storage for renewable energy generation and as a way to ease distribution and transmission bottlenecks in high-density urban areas. CEATI will also investigate the repurposing of electric-vehicle batteries for smart-grid applications, given that a battery that outlives its usefulness in a vehicle can still be used for many years as general energy storage for the grid.

On the acquisition front, two more promising Ontario cleantech ventures have been plucked up by U.S. firms. On Tuesday Toronto-based biogas maker Stormfisher Biogas announced it had been acquired by Virginia-based Greenhouse Gas Services. Despite having one of the most boring and uninspiring names, Greenhouse Gas Services is a venture of GE Energy Financial Services and AES Corp., so it has some serious backing. The company invests in and develops projects that reduce greenhouse-gas emissions, and it then sells the carbon credits. So here’s my question: If some of the biggest Stormfisher projects are expected to be in Ontario, and since the Ontario Power Authority doesn’t appear to be letting biogas projects keep carbon credits, then what’s in it for Greenhouse Gas Services? I can only speculate that the power authority has quietly decided to let developers keep credits from methane destruction. Something I’ll have to follow up on.

And just today, Sunnyvale, Calif.-based Calisolar announced it had acquired Vaughan, Ontario-based 6N Silicon, a maker of solar-grade silicon that will operate as a wholly owned subsidiary. “In addition, $22.5 million in funding was raised from existing Calisolar and 6N investors,” the companies said in a statement. “The new funds will be used to increase capacity at the Sunnyvale, California cell manufacturing facility and expand silicon purification operations in Vaughan, Ontario.” It’s sad to see 6N fall under foreign ownership so early in its life, but the good news is that Calisolar is likely to set up some module assembly in Ontario to take advantage of the feed-in-tariff program here. Given that its solar cells will contain 6N’s silicon, the company will be well positioned to meet Ontario’s local content requirements and even supply other cell/module makers.

Finally, I have a follow to my story about Vestas and the possibility it will lay roots in Ontario. I spoke Wednesday to the company’s head of global offshore markets, who spoke highly of the Trillium projects and called the opportunity to develop offshore wind in the Great Lakes “fantastic.” He wouldn’t say if Vestas plans to establish manufacturing in Ontario — which isn’t surprising — but given the potential in the Great Lakes, the liklihood of Trillium’s projects moving forward first, and the positive policy and regulatory environment in Ontario (including the feed-in-tariff program, which offers 19 cents per kilowatt-hour for offshore wind power), all the stars are aligned and it’s only a matter of time before Vestas makes its move.

One thought on “Ontario news: Grid storage project, acquisitions and Vestas”

  1. To focus in on the lastest updates from Ontario, I am hoping that members of the Trillim project, which includes Vestas, visits the Windsor Essex Development Commission website at “www.choosewindsoressex.com” in order that they can see how ideal the location of the City of Windor/Essex County would be. I know that this is a sales pitch but it’s truly a win-win scenerio.

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