Ontario invites industry to help build $1.95 billion in smart grid infrastructure

The Ontario Clean Technology Alliance is inviting global industry participants at DistribuTECH — the utility industry’s leading smart grid event — to invest in research and development and advanced manufacturing to help build out the electricity system of Canada’s largest, most populous province.

The Ontario Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO) estimated that starting in 2012 an average investment of about $390 million per year, or $1.95 billion in total over five years, is needed to enable the connection of distributed generation, such as wind and solar, in a more intelligent, cost-effective way.

Over the past year, the Province of Ontario has taken a very active role in funding smart grid research and development projects that spur industry activity. These include the $2.8 million Durham Smart Grid Demonstration Project, a $1 million, Cisco-backed new Smart Grid Research Chair at the University of Waterloo, and the grand opening of a $40 million Grid IQ Global Innovation Centre by General Electric (GE) (supported by $7.9 million from the province).

“The Durham Smart Grid Demonstration Project is possible thanks to $2.8 million from Ontario’s Smart Grid Fund,” said Rob Nolan, 2013 Chair of the Ontario Clean Technology Alliance and Manager, Investment Attraction for the Regional Municipality of Durham. “The Project is a collaboration of several partners, among them, the Durham Strategic Energy Alliance, the University of Ontario Institute of Technology (UOIT), and Siemens Canada. Its objective is to build a utilities control centre to improve dispatching, monitoring, asset assessment, load modeling and other system requirements for participating power utilities.”

The new Cisco chair will focus research on the full integration of information science and technology concepts for the power grid in order to enhance its effective performance of key components such as energy storage and renewable resources. The new hair is part of Cisco’s ongoing sponsorship of research initiatives at the University of Waterloo.

The 200,000-square-foot GE Grid IQ Global Innovation Centre, launched in the fall of 2012 in Markham, Ontario, is designed to foster innovation and global collaboration to improve the efficiency, reliability and security of the world’s electrical grids.

Ontario is serious about smart grid efficiencies and energy conservation. The province’s efforts have decreased electricity demand by over 1,900 MW between 2005 and 2011 — the equivalent of over 600,000 homes being taken off grid.

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