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Creating Smart Energy Communities in Atlantic Canada

There are more opportunities than ever for communities to plan for and manage their energy, reduce emissions and keep energy dollars local, and in the process, enhance local economic development and resilience to extreme weather events. QUEST Canada refers to these communities as Smart Energy Communities. Read on to learn how two utilities and QUEST Canada Supporters are helping to build Smart Energy Communities in Atlantic Canada.

To build tomorrow’s power grid for New Brunswick and the Atlantic region, NB Power and Nova Scotia Power are researching and testing energy technologies in New Brunswick and Nova Scotia through Smart Grid Atlantic.  

Smart Grid Atlantic

Smart Grid Atlantic is a four-year federally funded research and demonstration program to determine how energy technologies can provide customer, community and provincial benefits, such as:

Cleaner local power

generating more customer-owned and community-based renewable energy

More renewable energy

developing new software to manage the challenges and maximize the potential of renewable energy

New energy solutions

using new smart energy technologies to get more information and control over your energy use

More reliable electricity

increasing the resilience of homes, neighbourhoods and New Brunswick’s electricity system

Energy Systems Platform (ESP)

Smart Grid Atlantic is also serving as the foundation for the development of a new Energy Systems Platform (ESP) being developed by Siemens Global Smart Grid Centre of Competence in Fredericton.  

The ESP is a cloud-based platform equipped with the latest technologies, including artificial intelligence, to help utilities converge and manage all the distributed resources across its system.

ESP will help NB Power and Nova Scotia Power connect directly with energy technologies so customers can participate in programs that benefit them. NB Power can also use this platform to make the power grid more efficient, greener and less expensive, for everyone’s benefit. The ESP will become a new product that utilities around the world can use to help manage the significant complexities of integrating customer-owned technologies such as solar panels and batteries, known as distributed energy resources (DERs), onto local neighbourhood grids.

Smart Grid Atlantic includes smart energy community projects in both provinces that will deploy and test smart energy technologies to learn how they impact our provincial power grids and how they can benefit customers in the future. Each community is unique, and each project has different technologies and research objectives.  The projects currently underway are:

Shediac, NB The Shediac Smart Energy Community Project

This project has three main pieces:

1. A Residential Smart Energy Study

We’re partnering with hundreds of homeowners in Shediac to deploy and test new smart energy technologies and renewable energy sources. We want to identify opportunities for energy savings in these homes, to learn from the customer experiences and behaviours in using these technologies and how these are affecting their energy use.

2. A Community Solar Farm

We’re going to build NB Power’s first utility-scale solar facility — a 1.63 megawatt (MW) solar farm with utility battery storage capacity — right inside the town limits of Shediac. This facility will be connected to the distribution grid in Shediac and provide clean electricity to the two net-zero commercial buildings, with the benefits of any excess renewable energy from the farm flowing into the community.

3. Convert Two Commercial Buildings to Net-Zero

We’re introducing new smart-energy technologies (including solar panels and battery storage) and energy efficiency upgrades into two well-known commercial buildings — the Government of Canada Pension Centre and the Town of Shediac’s Multipurpose Centre. The goal is to lower the buildings’ energy use, while also adding clean energy sources to provide a new level of self-sufficiency. To achieve a net-zero rating, the buildings will also take advantage of renewable energy generated by the new solar farm. These buildings will become the first two commercial net-zero buildings in New Brunswick!

Moncton, NB The North Branch Smart Energy Neighborhood

The North Branch project is a partnership between local builders Solaire Homes and Progeny Modern Homes, NB Power and Siemens. A neighbourhood of net-zero ready homes will be built over the next few years for interested homebuyers. These highly efficient homes will include smart home energy technologies, such as home energy management systems, rooftop solar and smart energy storage batteries. Each home will be able to function independently as a ‘nanogrid’ and will also be part of a ‘microgrid’, where all homes involved in the project are connected and can share energy they generate with their neighbours as part of a neighbourhood energy exchange program. 

Smart Grid Nova Scotia Project

Smart Grid Nova Scotia (SGNS) is a pilot project dedicated to discovering innovative ways that customers can share in the benefit of clean energy. With the focus on creating a smarter, cleaner and more resilient grid, the project will help inform future programs and has the opportunity to provide benefits for all Nova Scotians. SGNS is made up of four components testing clean energy technologies and their benefits to NS Power customers. Project components include community solar, residential and commercial batteries, commercial building automation, electric vehicle smart charging and bi-directional charging.

Smart Grid Atlantic is funded by the federal departments of Natural Resources Canada, and Innovation Science and Economic Development (ISED) and involves research partner the National Research Council of Canada (NRC).

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