A pilot project located one hour outside of Toronto aims to be an example of what future sustainable communities could look like.
Opus One Solutions, Elexicon Energy, Marshall Homes, and the Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO) have built one of the first preplanned nested microgrid residential communities in Canada.
A microgrid is a small energy grid that is connected to the traditional power grid but can disconnect from it and operate independently.
The community, called Altona Towns, features 27 fully occupied homes and is located in Pickering, Ontario. Solar panels are built on the roof of one of the housing blocks and generate roughly 10 per cent of the power that is needed by the community. Tesla batteries store the excess solar energy and can serve as a backup power supply.
A Tesla battery station that stores excess energy generated by the solar panels. (Eric Lem/ Madhouse Advertising)
“When the [traditional] grid experiences a power outage, such as during a storm,” or “a car hits into the pole, the microgrid is able to disconnect from the grid and maintain its own stability of operations,” Joshua Wong, CEO of Opus One Solutions, said to The Weather Network.
“That to us is really the ultimate form of energy reliability and resiliency.”
Wong said that the high rate of new residential buildings being constructed in Pickering and Elexicon Energy’s microgrid-assisted feeder automation capabilities made this city the ideal location for this pilot.
“Pickering has especially been a rapidly growing area for new builds...it provides the perfect example for us to deploy and define the template for the future.”
An electric vehicle charging station in the Altona Towns community. (Eric Lem/ Madhouse Advertising)
Other sustainable features of the homes include electric vehicle charging stations, smart metering, and an integrated distribution energy service platform that can be used to manage parts of the microgrid.
The Government of Canada has stated that buildings, including residential homes, account for 18 per cent of all national greenhouse gas emissions, making this sector one that will require significant shifts in the coming years as the country aims to lower emissions.
“With climate change a key concern in our era, Elexicon Energy is looking to develop an industry model for a smart grid, with the hopes this project will increase energy distribution reliability and contribute to net zero emissions targets for Canada by enabling wide-scale smart grid implementation in the near future,” Falguni Shah, Vice President of Technology and Innovation at Elexicon Energy, stated in a press release.
The companies involved in this project are hoping that this pilot will spark interest in smart grid technology and inspire alternatives for sustainable living across the country.
Thumbnail credit: Marshall Homes