By: Edyta McKay, Manager Public Affairs and Communications, Elexicon Energy
Sustainable microgrids are becoming a critical tool in the fight against climate change, as well as the future of clean energy.
In Canada, our traditional energy grid and distribution systems are increasingly challenged by the increasing severity and frequency of climate change events including wildfires, floods, tornadoes, extreme heat and cold weather. The impact – power generation, transmission and distribution interruptions, decreased electricity capacity and power outages that slow down our economy and put lives at risk.
Thanks to the recent progress made to critical components in microgrid technology, including battery storage and solar panels, the feasibility of integrating these energy solutions into the overall grid infrastructure have increased significantly, ushering in a new age of clean energy for municipal planning and city building.
A few years ago, Elexicon Energy unveiled its plan to build a fully functioning pre-planned microgrid community in the City of Pickering. The idea was to test, develop and launch the next generation of technologies that could turn electricity distribution systems into modern, digitally enabled grids. These modern, smart microrgid communities could enable rooftop solar, battery storage and electric vehicles and in the future provide local residents and critical service providers with backup power when the grid fails in the event of a power outage.
Seeking funding from Ontario’s Independent System Electricity Operator (IESO) and Ontario Government; and in partnership with tech company Opus One and developer Marshall Homes, Elexicon Energy created Altona Towns.
With 45 thousand new residential homes built in Ontario each year, the project would serve as a future model for local hydro utilities and communities across the country.
This first of its kind in Canada, microgrid community unlocked its doors to residence in the summer of 2021. It demonstrates how microgrids can benefit homeowners while reducing the amount of electricity needed from the grid, helping make the provincial electricity system more affordable. It provides homeowners with increased energy resiliency and reliability, especially during power outages, while also offering an exciting alternative to conventional sources for power that are cleaner, more economical and adaptable to future climate change impacts.
Elexicon Energy will gather insights and lessons learned from the deployment, from the transmission station down to the local community, using Opus One’s distributed energy management software platform, GridOS®. Learnings will include how and when electricity is used, and how willing homeowners are to shift their energy consumption habits. The software has been integrated into Elexicon Energy’s electricity distribution operations, incorporating microgrid-assisted feeder automation capabilities to enable automated control features such as peak shaving, load shifting, backup power, demand response, voltage control and renewable power integration.
With decarbonization and digitization a key goal for local distribution companies, Elexicon Energy’s vision, ultimately, is to get a better handle on how practically and tangibly distributed energy resources can help improve grid reliability, affordability and resilience while giving homeowners more choice on power generation and control on consumption.