Canada’s largest clean-energy storage facility, a giant up-to-500MW system based on compressed-air technology, has taken a major stride forward following the award of C$4m ($3.2m) in backing from the country’s government.

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Funding for Toronto-headquartered Hydrostor’s Advanced Compressed Air Energy Storage (A-CAES) facility, which came via Natural Resources Canada’s Energy Innovation Programme and Sustainable Development Technology Canada, clears the way for the start-up to complete engineering and planning on the flagship and take “critical steps” toward construction.

The 300-500MW project will be modeled on Hydrostor’s operating 1.75MW/10MWh Goderich, Ontario storage facility, which currently provides the province’s independent electricity system operator with 12 hours of long -duration back-up.

The full-scale A-CAES project, said Hydrostor Curtis VanWalleghem, Hydrostor’s CEO, would “support Canada’s green economic transition [as an example of] designing, building, and operating emissions-free energy storage facilities, [and] employing the people, suppliers, and technologies from the oil & gas sector”.

“We are grateful for the federal government’s support of our long-duration energy storage solution that is critical to enabling the clean energy transition. This made-in-Canada solution is ready to be widely deployed within Canada and globally to lower electricity rates and decarbonize the electricity sector."

Canada’s minister of natural resources, Seamus O’Regan, said: “Investing in clean technology will lower emissions and increase our competitiveness. This is how we get to net zero by 2050.”

The A-CAES system works by converting renewable energy or power grid surplus into compressed air, which is funneled into purpose-built water-filled caverns, displacing water and creating storage capacity, with heat created by process being stored to reheat the compressed air to discharge the energy on demand.

Hydrostor claims an A-CAES project pipeline of over 6GW and 65-plus gigawatt-hours of deployment potential in the US, Canada, Chile and Australia, with “significant” global project prospects in other international markets.