Thanks to Ontario’s Green Energy Act, these days there’s no shortage of clean electrons feeding into the province’s grid. Annette Verschuren offers them a place to park.
NRStor, where she is CEO, owns, operates and develops energy-storage projects that help ease the transition to a grid that is increasingly powered by variable-output renewables. The company’s holdings include a 2 MW energy storage facility that uses Temporal Systems flywheels—literally, 10 giant spinning wheels—to keep any potential hiccups off the electricity system.
The privately-held Toronto-based company is also bringing the Tesla Powerwall to Canada, and developing compressed air energy storage.
A business powerhouse, Verschuren, 59, successfully brought craft-chain Michaels to Canada and drove expansion for The Home Depot—earning the Order of Canada for her retail industry contributions and as a champion of corporate social responsibility.
“It’s not easy what I’m doing,” she says. “I’m trying to influence regulators and government, get commercial deals done with utilities and big energy users, and find ways to get directly to the customer. I like big challenges. When it gets easy, I get bored.”
The energy storage is an emerging sector, rife with challenges and facing little policy support from Ottawa. But this is the time to take a risk or two, she says.
“To entrepreneurs I say, be brave. To investors, I say be brave and courageous. To Canada, I say: We have an opportunity to lead here. It’s the time to do more.”
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