Powering Ontario’s Growth: Ontario’s Plan for a Clean Energy Future, released by Ontario’s Ministry of Energy in July 2023, outlines the province’s ambitious strategy to meet electricity demands and achieve a low-carbon economy. Some of the plan’s key initiatives include:
- Going Nuclear: The province plans to lean further into the nuclear energy sector, starting first by investing in refurbishing existing nuclear generation facilities and building new ones. New sites are anticipated to be added to the Bruce and Darlington nuclear sites. Existing facilities at Darlington, Bruce and potentially Pickering are also on the list to receive updates and upgrades.
- Investing in Hydrogen: The Ontario government has highlighted hydrogen projects as a key initiative in their Plan for a Clean Energy Future. A key element of this is the development of the Niagra Hydrogen Centre, which is intended to produce low-carbon hydrogen that could be used for various cross-industry purposes. In their article on Ontario’s energy plan, Blakes, Cassels & Graydon LLP highlights the opportunity for low-carbon hydrogen to be sold to fuel transportation or injected into a natural gas generating station to lower its carbon intensity. Investments will also be directed toward additional hydrogen opportunities, hydrogen storage, and the effective integration of hydrogen and hydrogen storage into Ontario’s existing electricity system.
- Tackling Battery Storage: Ontario plans to move forward with the largest battery storage procurement in Canadian history. The province issued requests for proposals and selected several new battery storage project concepts. These concepts and plans will help to shape the construction of new facilities as part of the Plan for a Clean Energy Future. The common goal of these facilities will be to store electricity in instances of low power demand and return the power to the grid at times of increased demand.
- Updating and Upgrading Hydro: While Ontario has an existing hydroelectric fleet, the new plan intends to modernize the existing infrastructure, including re-contracting and updating sites, some of which are upward of 100 years old. The province also plans to develop additional pumped hydroelectric storage facilities, with a proposed open-loop project in Meaford as well as closed-loop projects in Marmora and regions beyond.
- Meeting Demands, Growing Transmission Infrastructure: To meet increasing electricity demands across the province, Ontario’s plan outlines a strategy to develop new electricity transmission infrastructure in Southwest, Northeast and Eastern Ontario. The strategy aims to build several new lines across the province. Five of the new lines will be in the Windsor-Essex and Chatham areas, three are set to go in the Sault Ste. Marie and Timmins areas and the final line is planned to run between Peterborough and the Oshawa/Pickering area. The province is also investigating options for new transmission infrastructure between Toronto and Sudbury.
- Involving Indigenous Communities: The Ontario government has also acknowledged that Indigenous communities and organizations are increasingly interested in building and operating energy infrastructure and projects. The province’s plan suggests that the participation and support of Indigenous communities for proposed regional energy projects will be a priority now and moving forward.
These substantial and ambitious changes to Ontario’s energy sector promise to also benefit businesses in the clean-energy industry:
- Businesses that produce or use low-carbon hydrogen or nuclear energy may find new or increased opportunities and markets in Ontario, as the province pushes investments in the direction of these projects.
- Businesses in the renewable energy industry, such as wind, solar, hydroelectric and biogas, may have more options and incentives to participate in the province’s future energy procurements, which would be focused on non-emitting energy technologies.
- Businesses that develop or operate battery storage or pumped hydroelectric storage facilities may see increased demand and support from the province.
However, an inverse effect threatens more traditional energy sources and businesses operating within those industries. With a significant push toward cleaner energy, those in the coal, oil and gas markets may be at risk of facing further regulatory pressures.
Ontario’s Plan for a Clean Energy Future is a roadmap for acquiring and maintaining the electricity resources needed to satisfy an increasing demand for electricity in the province while reducing greenhouse gas emissions and supporting economic growth. Though the plan promises increased opportunities across the nuclear, hydrogen, hydroelectric, and other renewable energy sectors, it does not sufficiently address the future of coal, oil and gas.
While Ontario’s Plan for a Clean Energy Future offers insight into Ontario’s current priorities and long-term energy goals, it is still subject to change as these concepts are put into action. As Ontario continues to push towards its low-carbon targets, Caravel’s team of expert energy lawyers will be closely monitoring provincial and federal developments.
If you are looking for legal professionals to help you and your business navigate potential regulatory changes in the energy sector, we can help. Caravel has a team of over 90 qualified and experienced lawyers, including those specializing in energy law, who can support you through industry changes. Get in touch with our team today to find out more.