Canadian Utility Puts Power Back into Consumers’ Hands

Oshawa Power is giving homeowners the ability to improve the management of their energy generation and consumption.
Published: Fri 22 Aug 2014

Electric utilities are under a great deal of pressure to evolve and provide smarter options for customers to generate and store their own power.

In response to this, Oshawa Power and Panasonic Eco Solutions have launched an innovative solar photovoltaic and energy management pilot project in the City of Oshawa, Ontario, Canada. Tabuchi Electric Co. of Japan, which is financing the project, has been selected as a strategic technology partner. The project is being carried out with the support of the City of Oshawa.

Helping customers to manage their energy

The project will involve the engineering and commissioning of approximately 30 turnkey residential rooftop solar photovoltaic systems which will be combined with energy storage and an energy management system. The energy management system will give homeowners the ability to improve the management of their energy generation and consumption. This will reduce electricity costs and their carbon footprint. The energy storage and management system, which can provide up to 10kWh of standby energy, can also be utilized as a source of backup power in the event of a grid power failure.

At the heart of the system is Tabuchi Electric’s EIBS hybrid PV inverter with embedded multi-string MPPT charger that controls both the solar array and the energy storage battery. The energy storage system includes Panasonic’s compact lithium ion batteries that are designed to provide safe and reliable power on demand for many years.

“The project provides us the opportunity to collaborate with progressive partners who share a common goal of instilling change in the arena of distributed energy generation. We felt that Oshawa Power and Utilities and the City of Oshawa, together with Tabuchi Electric share our goal of promoting new and leading edge technologies aimed at improving energy management for the betterment of society,” said Walter Buzzelli, Managing Director, Panasonic Eco Solutions Canada.

Evolution of the electrical industry

Atul Mahajan, the CEO of Oshawa Power and Utilities is equally excited about the prospects of this project and the changes that the industry is faced with. He says, “Distributed generation and storage with the help of sustainable clean and green technologies such as co-generation and solar is the smart way to produce and use energy.” He adds, “The cost effective reliable disruptive technologies that are already here and those that are around the corner will finally provide the customers the options which they did not have in a traditional utility model. Think of solar and storage as the wireless smart phone equivalent, in the evolution of the electrical industry. Will these technologies and their proponents and supporters go through teething troubles? Yes. But eventually, they will become as ubiquitous as the smart phone.”

The complete commissioning of the residential energy management systems is due to be completed in the spring of 2015 after which a broader roll out in the City of Oshawa and the Province of Ontario will be launched.

Customers are now no longer just consumers-they are big role players when it comes to energy production. [Engerati-Energy Transition-A Rebirth for Utilities.] For this reason, consumer engagement has become a priority and new strategies and regulations have to be developed. The lower cost and installation of renewable energy has been a real game changer in the industry and as a result, utilities need to embrace self-generation and be proactive about it since this integration of energy will still need to be regulated by the utility in order to avoid an unstable and overloaded grid.

Mahajan told Engerati, “In my opinion it is a simple matter. Disruptive technologies are here or around the corner. So to survive or thrive, utilities need to adapt and evolve.”