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AESO to investigate benefits of dispatchable resources, including hydro

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The Alberta Electric System Operator is assessing how dispatchable renewables and electricity storage could benefit the Canadian province’s electricity system as it transitions toward 30% renewables by 2030.

This work is being performed under the direction of the government of Alberta, which said, “The government appreciates the potential value that on-demand renewables can provide to Alberta’s electricity system reliability, especially as significant intermittent generation is brought onto the grid through initiatives such as the Renewable Electricity Program.”

AESO has invited interested stakeholders to provide their views on dispatchable renewables and electricity storage in Alberta by Feb. 14, 2018. AESO will publish a summary of the feedback received and will engage with targeted stakeholders to gain further insights that will help inform its recommendations to the government of Alberta. The government has requested that the work be completed by May 2018.

According to an announcement made in November 2017, the review is to include all forms of renewable generation typically associated with the ability to be dispatched when required – hydroelectricity, biomass and geothermal – as well as the role electricity storage can play to enhance the availability of these sources and to firm wind and solar.

AESO says it “will carefully coordinate this assessment with ongoing capacity market design work and any future Renewable Electricity Program competitions.”

The government has asked AESO to prepare a recommendation detailing whether any additional products or services are required, whether they may be procured using existing market mechanisms or whether discrete competitions will be required, and the proposed structure and timeline of such competitions if required.

Recommendations on competition design need to be completed by August 2018, the government says, with the competition launched no later than November 2018.

Alberta is home to more than 20 hydroelectric stations with a total capacity of more than 900 MW. It is unclear how the results of this assessment might affect hydropower, but estimates indicate more than 10,000 MW of untapped potential in the province.

In addition, several projects are under development or being considered for development, including the Pelican and Sundog renewable stations proposed by Innergex.

Alberta also may soon be home to a pumped storage facility, with TransAlta Corporation looking into construction of the 900-MW Brazeau Pumped Storage Project at its existing 355-MW conventional Brazeau Hydro plant.

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