Energy storage projects receive funding

NOVA SCOTIA - It’s leading-edge technology and could increase the amount of electricity generated in Nova Scotia by wind, solar or tidal power.

Wind developers Scotian Windfields announced in Halifax that it is teaming up with VRB Power Systems of Richmond, B.C., in a pilot project to try and store electricity produced by wind turbines.

"This is a first in Canada," said Dan Roscoe, Scotian Windfields’ chief operating officer, after the company received $350,000 in federal funding to purchase two high-tech batteries from VRB Systems.

Scotian Windfield’s project was just one of 21 that received $2.6 million in a funding announcement by Nova Scotia’s Environment Minister Mark Parent at the opening of the Power of Green conference in Halifax, hosted by the provincial Economic Development Department.

VRB Power Systems uses a battery that looks like a small chemical plant to store electricity produced by renewable energy. It has four hours’ worth of storage capacity.

The so-called flow batteries are modular and can be produced in different sizes, from small fridge-sized units for the home to larger ones for an industrial park, said Mr. Roscoe.

"The concept to store energy will greatly increase the amount of clean energy produced here in Nova Scotia," he said.

One of the challenges facing renewable energy entrepreneurs is storing this clean energy. A energy company may enter a contract to sell its renewable energy, but the energy supply is not constant — the wind blows in peaks and valleys, and solar energy cannot be produced at night.

"It offers huge advantages," he said, adding that the location of the wind turbine or the potential customer have yet to be determined.

Currently, the impact of wind, tidal and hydro in the province’s energy mix is negligible. Fossil fuels — coal petroleum coke, oil and natural gas — account for about 90 per cent of electricity generation in this province.

Scotian Windfields, a Nova Scotia community-owned wind company, has up to 18 months to use the funding, and will be working with VRB and Nova Scotia Power over the next few months to choose the best wind turbine and location.

VRB was recently profiled in Discover Magazine in the article titled: The Element That Could Change the World.

Mr. Parent says these projects have the potential to reduce harmful greenhouse gas emissions in Nova Scotia by 55,623 tonnes per year, which is equivalent to taking 10,113 cars off the road.

"These grants are a smart investment in the future of our province and help to move us closer to meeting our environmental targets," said the environment minister.

RBC, Canada’s largest bank, is also going green and the bank’s chief operating officer Barbara Stymiest outlined the importance of using green energy in these uncertain times.

"The environment has moved mainstream.... Companies and governments worldwide are becoming standard-bearers for sustainability," she told about 350 people attending the one-day conference.

She said with energy prices rising and falling unpredictably, upgrading with energy-efficient technology can result in significant cost savings for businesses.



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