Innovative Electricity Projects in Windsor-Essex Support Economic Growth and Reliability

LDS IESO retrofit 400

Nov 2, 2020

Two pioneering greenhouse growers are testing energy-efficiency technologies in the Windsor-Essex region in an effort to support local economic growth. As significant expansion of Ontario’s greenhouse sector increases the need for electricity, the Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO) has been working with communities on solutions to ensure continued electricity reliability and cost-effectiveness.

Supported by the IESO’s Grid Innovation Fund, the pilot projects are a response to consultations with communities, the greenhouse sector, local utilities and other sector partners, to integrate innovative thinking and explore new solutions beyond conventional electricity infrastructure.

Over $1.1 million of financial support will be provided over three years to the following project proponents and their partner organizations.

  • Allegro Acres Inc.: To evaluate the performance of low-intensity light emitting diode (LED) lighting and controls used over a 24-hour period against the current practice of using high-intensity high pressure sodium (HPS) lighting over a 16 to 17-hour period. This lighting strategy has the potential to reduce electricity use by 15 to 33 percent, based on a previous study.
  • Great Lakes Greenhouses Inc.: To develop an artificial intelligence (AI)-powered program that uses data and a learning algorithm to increase energy efficiency without reducing crop yield in large-scale commercial greenhouses.

Ontario’s greenhouses make up over 60 percent of Canada’s total greenhouse area, and electricity use in this sector is forecast to increase 180 percent from 2018 to 2024, driven in part by expansion in Windsor-Essex.

2019 Greenhouse Profile Study showed the potential for energy efficiency to help manage increasing electricity demand in the sector while reducing costs for greenhouses.

This study resulted in the regionally-targeted Save on Energy Regional LED Incentive for Greenhouses – an energy-efficiency incentive to address regional reliability needs and encourage greenhouses to improve overall facility operations. The program has committed 60 GWh of energy savings and 5 MW of demand savings to date, with more project applications on the way.

The findings of the pilot projects will be shared with the greenhouse industry and help inform future program offerings to the sector. This investment is part of an allocated $2.5 million by the Grid Innovation Fund for indoor agriculture projects. Additional projects will be announced in the near future.

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