Tag Archives: Enbridge

Enbridge makes another clean tech investment — this time in flywheel storage

temporalEnbridge Inc. is emerging as major corporate venturing partners in the Canadian cleantech scene. It has already acquired more than $3 billion in renewable energy assets — a combination of solar, wind, geothermal and run-of-river hydro. It has invested in concentrated solar PV manufacturer Morgan Solar and hydrogen tech firm Hydrogenics. It has pursued innovative waste-heat capture at its compressor stations in combination with fuel cell technology. Now, it is throwing its financial support behind flywheel storage innovator Temporal Power.

Temporal, based in Mississauga, Ontario, announced this week it has completed a $10 million Series B equity financing, with Enbridge Emerging Technology Inc. one of the lead investors along with Northwater Intellectual Property Fund (which was also lead investor in the company’s Series A financing in July 2011). Northwater Capital, it should be noted, is the money behind NRStor, a company with plans to develop Canada’s first energy storage park. NRStor, using Temporal Power flywheels, has already won a contract with Ontario’s Independent Electricity System Operator, which will see the flywheels being used to provide regulation services on the provincial grid. Annette Verschuren, former CEO of Home Depot Canada, is heading up the NRStor initiative.

Temporal Power describes its flywheel technology as a  “quantum leap forward” because of its capability of storing 50 times more energy than most flywheels and enabling a power output that is five times higher per unit than its nearest grid-scale competitor. “Using its proprietary flywheel energy storage technology, Temporal Power’s scalable power storage plants offer utilities and power generation companies the ability to deliver efficient and cost-effective fast response capabilities for balancing energy and improving power quality on the electrical grid,” the company said in a statement.

Globe and Mail today has a nice summary of the various energy storage initiatives going on in Ontario — from conventional pumped storage to Temporal’s flywheels and advanced compressed-air energy storage.

Hydrogenics sells electrolysers and services for 2MW European “power-to-gas” project

Hydrogenics will get a chance to prove to new equity owner Enbridge Inc. that its power-to-gas strategy has a future, at least in Europe. The Mississauga, Ont.-based maker of electrolysers and fuel cells announced yesterday it is supplying Germany’s E.ON, the world’s largest investor-owned gas and electric utility, with a range of services and equipment to support a 2-megawatt power-to-gas project in an energy storage facility to be located in Falkenhagen, Germany. The facility will allow E.ON to convert surplus renewable electricity in Germany into hydrogen that can be stored in its natural gas pipeline network. The facility is expected to be operational sometime next year.

“When compared to current utility-scale solutions, Power-to-Gas offers unmatched energy storage capacities. Over a 24-hour period, the Falkenhagen facility will be able to store over 30 MWh of energy,” said Daryl Wilson, president and CEO of Hydrogenics.

Click here to read more about power-to-gas and Enbridge’s investment and partner with Hydrogenics.

Enbridge, Hydrogenics partner for utility-scale energy storage for renewables

UPDATE: My Clean Break column this week has some more detail.

Oil and gas pipeline giant Enbridge Inc. has invested $5 million in Mississauga, Ont.-based Hydrogenics, a leading maker of proton-exchange membrane fuel cells and electrolysis systems for producing hydrogen gas from water.

Gotta say, I wasn’t expecting this announcement. I know Enbridge has invested in fuel-cell technology before, and I know it has purchased hundreds of megawatts of solar capacity, operates wind farms and is dabbling in geopower. And yes, it has invested some money into Toronto-based Morgan Solar. What surprises me about this announcement isn’t so much the investment itself, but how Enbridge plans to strategically collaborate with Hydrogenics to bring utility-scale energy storage to renewables in Ontario. You’d think this was about using renewables to generate hydrogen during off-peak hours, storing it, and then putting it through a fuel cell to generate electricity during peak hours. And perhaps this is the longer-term vision. But the way Enbridge describes this collaboration, it has little interest in fuel cells. Instead, it wants to generate hydrogen and inject it into its natural gas pipeline assets, “proportionally increasing the renewable energy content in natural gas pipelines.” In other words — the way I read it from the press release — it wants to reduce the carbon intensity of the natural gas in its pipelines by mixing it with hydrogen. That cleaner natural gas will then be burned in natural gas-fired plants, people’s home furnaces, etc…

Perhaps I’m missing something. If there’s someone from Enbridge reading this, please correct me if I’m wrong.  (I’m right).

Here’s how the two companies describe their “Power-to-Gas” strategy in their press release:

With ‘Power-to-Gas’, the hydrogen produced during periods of excess renewable generation will be injected into the existing natural gas pipeline network, proportionally increasing the renewable energy content in natural gas pipelines for essentially the operating cost of the electrolyzer. Small quantities of hydrogen can be manageable in existing natural gas pipeline networks. With the significant scale of the natural gas pipeline network, these same quantities of hydrogen have a very meaningful impact on electricity energy storage potential.  The natural gas pipeline network represents a vast energy storage system which already exists. The utility scale energy storage leverages existing natural gas pipeline and storage assets to enable improved operability for the electrical system. Furthermore, the economics are further improved by leveraging existing gas generators to bring this renewable energy back to the electrical grid where, and when, it is needed most.

The companies said they will initially focus on Ontario. And Hydrogenics will have the opportunity to participate in up to 50 per cent ownership in a build-own-operate model for energy storage services. I have no clue how the economics will work. I mean, if the hydrogen is being blended with natural gas how can Enbridge capture that value when it sells that gas? How will this work with Ontario’s feed-in-tariff program, which doesn’t have any rules or tiered (peak, off-peak) FIT rates to encourage energy storage services? I’m very curious to learn more about this (and will over the coming days).

What’s clear is that there is momentum building for energy storage solutions in Ontario. Hydro One is testing out Temporal Power flywheels to relieve congestion on its transmission lines. Toronto Hydro is piloting bulk lithium-ion battery storage and testing underwater compressed-air storage in Lake Ontario. Annette Verschuren, former chief executive of Home Depot Canada, is heading up a new venture called NRStor that wants to bring an energy storage park to Ontario. And word has it that the Ontario Ministry of Energy — or the Ontario Power Authority — is sitting on a large draft policy paper related to energy storage that will be released later this year. Perhaps we’ll get some clarity around energy storage after all. There seems to be enough activity in the province to suggest that something is going on behind the scenes to stimulate strong interest in energy storage.

We’ll see.

NOTE: Just got my hands on a backgrounder Q&A from Hydrogenics that explains the above in more detail. A few interesting points, according to this backgrounder:

Injecting only small amounts of hydrogen into the gas grid (less than 5% by volume) offers significant potential. In large markets, like Ontario, the energy storage potential could provide power for over 160,000 homes. This is the equivalent of the new Niagara Tunnel hydro power project in Niagara Falls.


Every GJ of hydrogen produced by a Power-to-Gas application converting surplus renewable generation will displace one GJ of natural gas consumption with a commensurate reduction of 56kg of CO2 equivalent. The estimated annual GHG reduction from a 100MW Power-to-Gas project would be 25 CO2 equivalent kilotonnes.


The first stage will be to develop a 1 MW Power-to-Gas pilot project in Ontario to test the integrated system, develop gas network interconnections and work with the IESO and Canadian Gas Association to design the operating standards and market protocols to run a Power-to-Gas application. After developing commercial scale electrolyzer capability, Hydrogenics will have the opportunity to participate in up to 50% ownership in a build own operate model for energy storage projects with Enbridge.

Oil and gas delivery giant Enbridge Inc. makes first solar tech investment, throws $10 million into Morgan Solar

Gotta say, I found this a surprising one. Enbridge Inc., the Calgary-based oil/natural gas pipeline and delivery company, is investing $10 million in concentrated solar PV manufacturer Morgan Solar, which is based in Toronto. I say surprising because Enbridge, while it has invested in solar, wind and geothermal projects before — the kind that generate immediate cash flow and come with an acceptable level of risk — has never really put its money behind a greentech play, with the exception of fuel cells. It may be true that $10 million is couch change for this multibillion-dollar corporate giant, but keeping in mind this $10 million could have been spent elsewhere, this is an intriguing move by Enbridge.

Does it want to be in the same club as integrated oil company Cenovus, which has captured many headlines related to its venture investments in everything from fusion power to water desalination technology? Not sure, but perhaps this is the first of more tech investments to come — as sign that corporate capital is playing a more important role in a country where venture capital is hard to come by.

Morgan Solar, mind you, hasn’t had a tough time raising capital. In March 2011 it aimed to raise up to $25 million (U.S.), but with Enbridge joining the party the round is oversubscribed at $28.8 million. The interest in Morgan Solar is understandable. It has developed an inexpensive and innovative light-guide solar optic that captures and directs incoming sunlight into a tiny, high-efficiency, finger-nail sized PV chip, achieving a balance of cost, efficiency, weight, and low-profile (i.e. the system is really thin) that may be unrivaled in the market. The company says its systems cost less to build, ship, deploy and maintain than competing technologies. Indeed, it’s bold enough to say that its Sun Simba product will offer a lower Levelized Cost of Electricity (LCOE) “than solar technologies on the market today, or known to be under development.”

It should be pointed out that Enbridge owns three solar facilities that together represent 100 megawatts of capacity. Most of that comes from its 80 MW Sarnia Solar Project, which until recently was the largest operating PV facility in the world. It’s unclear whether Enbridge eyes using Morgan Solar’s CPV systems in future projects, but the potential certainly exists for collaboration on smaller demonstration projects. The reality, however, is that Enbridge has so far let others take on solar development risks. It then steps in and buys finished, operational projects that are already generating cash.

Morgan has other partners in the mix, some of them strategic. Iberdrola S.A., one of the world’s largest renewable-energy utilities, is a strategic investor, as is Nypro Inc., a contract manufacturer specializing in precision injection molding. Nypro, for example, makes the light-guide optic for Morgan Solar.

Morgan Solar, by the way, was recently named — for the second time — to Corporate Knights’ Next 10 list of most promising Canadian cleantech companies.

Who knew? World’s largest solar PV plant is now in Ontario

In the realm of solar, you’d kind of expect the title of “largest” to go to sunny and hot places like, say, California or Arizona or Nevada, or some sunny place in Europe or the Middle East somewhere. Nope — that title goes to Ontario, at least for today. First Solar announced today that it has completed the final phases of its Sarnia solar power plant and that the facility now ranks as the largest solar PV plant in the world. The plant is owned by gas and pipeline giant Enbridge Inc. — you know, the guys who had the big oil spill in Michigan. The press release says it is an 80-megawatt plant, but over at PRResources.com it ranks the project first at 97 megawatts. Not sure what the deal is there. But even at 80 megawatts it’s still 33 per cent larger than the second-largest plant, which is in Olmedilla, Spain. The next largest in Canada, ranking 24th worldwide, is the 23.4 megawatt facility in Arnprior, Ontario.

I remember it was just a few years ago when it was a big deal to see 1 megawatt of solar installed across ALL of Ontario, let alone single projects.