May 28, 2019

EIN 23 CS powerforward 400A consortium of Canadian energy organizations has been shortlisted to develop the electricity distribution system of the future as part of Natural Resources Canada’s (NRCan) Power Forward Challenge. The intent of the challenge is for Canada and the United Kingdom to collaborate and explore cutting edge smart grid technologies to help power the grid and revolutionize the way we access clean, flexible, and reliable energy.

The Transformative Utility delivers on the promise of the new world of clean electricity generation and usage by developing an integrated, responsive, efficient end to end digital electricity distribution system,” announced John Avdoulos, President of Utilismart Corporation of London, Ontario.

The consortium is a collaboration and partnership among entities in Canada and the United Kingdom led by Utilismart Corporation and includes Essex Powerlines Corporation, Oakville Hydro, Planview Utility Services Limited from Canada and First Derivatives Plc and Digital Engineering Ltd. from the UK, among others.  Building on each organization’s strengths, the Consortium is developing an end to end system that bridges the gaps between grid operations, engineering planning, and in-field asset management, enabling the integration of smaller renewable generators and users, while maximizing customer value.

“Simply put, the project will develop technologies that will enable utilities to serve customers of all sizes with unprecedented efficiency in an age of digital transformation and changing electricity needs,” explains Scott Mudie, COO of Oakville Hydro.  “To remain competitive and essential, utilities across the world need to transform from traditional poles-and-wires companies into Distribution System Operators, by turning data into decisions.”

The Transformative Utility will enable utilities to become Distribution System Operators and digitally transform data into decision making.  The model leverages existing investments in metering technology and control center operations, and merges data onto a common platform for enhanced decision making. Through the development of innovative technologies, asset related business processes will be optimized, creating visibility and flexibility in the grid.

“Adopting this technology will provide unprecedented transparency and value to regulators, market operators, distribution system operators, and customers throughout Canada, and globally,” adds Mr. Avdoulos.  “The ability of the Transformative Utility to connect and communicate with different systems, devices, and applications, will allow the UK market to easily adapt the technology for its grid operations.”

With combined analysis, utilities can expect better visibility into the health and operational performance of their transformers, breakers, and switches, steering them away from traditional fixed interval maintenance programs.  With grid intelligence insights available at their fingertips, operational dispatch and control will improve.  Sophisticated weather data, forecasting of generation and customer loads, DER signaling, and market data at the operational level, will give utilities the ability to reconfigure the grid and maximize market and customer value.

“Generation, distribution, maintenance and customer value will be integrated in a safe reliable network promoting sustainability of the electricity system and our planet, by identifying and connecting the vast and disparate renewable generators and users,” says Joe Barile, General Manager of Essex Powerlines.

The Power Forward Challenge was developed by Natural Resources Canada and the UK Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy as one of five cleantech challenges stemming from the Impact Canada Initiative through the Government of Canada. NRCan will formally announce the list of Power Forward Challenge semi-finalists next week in Vancouver. The semi-finalists will compete in a Pitch Event and three winning proposals will be announced in June.  The winning proposals will receive a $3-million grant to be used to conduct a pilot-scale demonstration of their smart grid solution. Demonstrations will then be assessed, and the final award winner will be announced March 2021, acquiring an additional $1-million prize.

“We are thrilled to be shortlisted for this innovative and truly important project put forward by NRCan,” says Mr. Avdoulos.  “It’s an excellent way to spur the necessary planning for a rapidly evolving sector.”