Microgrids Get A Boost In Ontario

Three microgrid projects have been awarded funding from Ontario’s Smart Grid Fund.
Published: Fri 05 Dec 2014

Microgrid developments are being widely pursued in North America and not least in Ontario, where both research and development activity is under way. Now in the latest (second) round of funding from the province’s Smart Grid Fund covering 17 smart grid projects, three microgrid projects have been awarded support.

These are the first microgrid projects to receive support from the Fund. The other projects in the more than CA$23.7 million (US$20.8 million) award are in the areas of energy storage, electric vehicle integration, behind the meter, grid automation and data analytics.

Guelph microgrid test centre

Canadian Solar has been awarded funding to support the microgrid test centre at its headquarters in Guelph, which was opened earlier in the year. [Engerati-Microgrid Test Centre Will Boost Economic and Social Development in Ontario]

The aim of the test centre is to provide a real-world laboratory for microgrid development. The focus is on integrating renewable energy resources at high levels of penetration in both off-grid and grid-tied remote Ontario environments.

The test centre will take a holistic approach to provide community energy plans, optimal design and feasibility assessment services. As each smart microgrid is unique, the centre will be able to simulate each proposed system with its unique characteristics under near real life conditions. This will allow for verification of performance including stability, reliability, power quality and safety in both islanded and grid connected modes.

Further, the centre will address problems associated with remote and islanded microgrids, including high and continually increasing diesel cost, low efficiency, low power security and environmental risks associated with the use of diesel.

With some 300 remote communities, home to 200,000 people, microgrids were identified in the province’s Long-Term Energy Plan (released October 2013) for electrification to reduce the costs of using diesel fuel and improving the quality of supply.

UOIT campus microgrid

Panasonic Eco Solutions Canada is a recipient for the construction of a ‘grid-tied’ microgrid at The University of Ontario Institute of Technology (UOIT) campus in Oshawa.

The microgrid is designed to operate as backup power during a utility power outage and provide seamless disconnection and reconnection from the main grid. It will include a 500kW Li-ion battery energy storage system, inverter system, 50kW solar PV generation and microgrid controller/optimizer, which will be integrated with the existing 1.6MW diesel and 2.4MW CHP generation plants.

Besides demonstrating the microgrid and its operation in islanding mode, other objectives include providing backup power support to the campus evacuation centre and demonstrating commercialization of the smart microgrid concept as a scalable emergency power application for hospitals, military bases, pharmaceutical manufacturing, chemical processing plants, etc. It will also offer a test facility for microgrid R&D at UOIT.

Along with UOIT, project partners include Oshawa Power Utilities Corporation, Hydro One and GE Digital Energy. The expected completion date is August 2016.

White Lanes microGRID

The third recipient is Toronto community energy solution provider eCAMION, which is developing a microgrid to support sixteen residential and commercial loads in the city of Woodstock.

The Whites Lane microGRID is aimed to provide a means of introducing various emerging smart grid technologies into the realm of a typical 120/240V distribution network. The project will implement the concept of PowerMatching, by matching customer loads with renewable energy generation and energy storage technologies. This will be made possible through the use of smart metering data, customer education and customer enhancing load monitoring devices. The focus is on achieving net zero electricity requirements over the course of a year.

The outcomes of the Whites Lane microGRID should be applicable to any grid connected customer or series of customers in Ontario as well as local distribution companies (LDCs) and smaller communities.

The first phase of building customer awareness and baseline data is under way, and project completion is due in December 2015. Partners include Arntjen Solar, Fanshawe College and Woodstock Hydro Services Inc.