Canadian Manufacturing

Ontario scraps gas plant, will build battery to power new light rail project

The lithium-ion back-up system will be capable of powering the Eglinton Crosstown LRT for four hours during an outage



Crews are currently working on the new light rail system. Tunnel boring was completed last summer and the project is expected to open in 2021. PHOTO: CrosstownTO

TORONTO—Facing fierce community opposition, the Ontario government has shelved a planned natural gas power plant designed to provide back-up power to a Toronto light rail transit project in favour of a large battery.

The province’s Transportation Minister Steven Del Duca was in the city’s Mount Dennis neighbourhood last week to announce the change of course.

He said the battery system offers cost and environmental savings, and meets community demands for an alternative design for the Eglinton Crosstown’s back-up power system.

“The new facility will be capable of providing power to the LRT for up to four hours during a wide-spread power outage and allow for an orderly shutdown of the system if necessary,” Del Duca, said at the press conference.

The province will partner with Toronto Hydro on the project, which includes a lithium-ion energy storage system housed inside a prefabricated building as well as a 90 kilowatt solar array.

The battery will be located adjacent to the LRT’s maintenance and storage facility near the future Mount Dennis Station—part of the 19-kilometre LRT, which is slated to open in 2021.

The province would not comment on the overall cost of the system, but Del Duca said he doesn’t “anticipate” it would cost more than the planned gas project—and because the battery will be able to store power generated at off-peak hours at night and supply power during the day, it is expected to generate operating cost savings.

Procurement is expected to get underway later this year.

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