Canada’s National Research Council (NRC) has launched a research programme aimed at accelerating the deployment of energy storage systems, seen as crucial to the further uptake of renewable energy in Canada.

The NRC’s programme is seeking to improve the reliability and drive down the costs of grid-scale energy storage, which the NRC said would be needed to allow greater amounts of variable solar and wind energy to be integrated into Canada’s grid.

Among its goals, the ‘energy storage for grid security and modernisation programme’ is seeking to slash the cost of grid-scale storage from C$1,000 to C$500/kWh and to double the operating lifetime of storage systems from seven to 15 years.

“This large-scale, multi-year, collaborative approach will deploy a critical mass of expertise in targeted areas to help resolve the reliability and affordability challenges of integrating new technologies into a modernised electricity grid,” said Andy Reynolds, general manager of the energy, mining and environment portfolio at the National Research Council of Canada.

“This will help grow Canada’s renewable energy sector and create new markets for enabling technology and material suppliers, including the mining industry.”

NRC said energy costs for Canadian consumers will rise over the next 20 years as the country’s grid undergoes maintenance and upgrades.

But it said the incorporation of grid-scale storage facilities in any upgrades would eventually reduce costs for end users.

The programme will involve 35 full-time researchers in Ottawa and Vancouver, as well as utility companies and equipment suppliers.