Renewable Energy Development

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Opening a world of opportunity for municipalities

Mention the phrase “smart grid” to just about anyone outside the energy industry, and you may be faced with puzzled looks and a vague reference to high technology.

But, in truth, it just describes a new way to deliver an old product – in this case, electricity. The fact is, many electricity assets are approaching their end of life and must be replaced. Meanwhile, developments in information technology and automation raise exciting possibilities for a reconfigured electrical grid.

Smart grids redefine the way electricity consumers are connected to the system that serves them.

At the same time, new technology is not only putting more information into the hands of consumers, but also offers more control, opening up new possibilities where consumers decide how much to use or sell depending on what the price is.

 In this context, the revenue prospects for municipalities are substantial. By getting involved in energy projects early, they can secure their energy future and ensure that the revenue earned by such initiatives is kept in their communities, rather than being sent off shore to private equity investors.

When it comes to the development of renewable energy projects, a number of opportunities are opening up for municipalities. Examples include:

  • developing projects and benefiting from project revenues;
  • creating an Energy Cooperative and sell bonds or shares to finance projects;
  • partnering in a project with a developer, a cooperative, an aboriginal community, a public sector entity and benefiting from project revenues;
  • acting as a Project Site Owner allowing renewable energy projects to be located on municipally-owned properties in return for lease payments or other benefits.

In Ontario, the implementation of the Climate Action Plan has particularly important implications for municipalities. Regulations are being loosened to give municipalities the tools, ways and means to implement local policies that will contribute to provincial targets. Some of the required targets include electric vehicle charging stations in surface parking areas, setting green development standards (construction), setting minimum parking requirements, and the creation and implementation of community energy plans.

As upgrading the grid becomes a growing priority across the country, municipalities will play a key role in turning that priority into reality. With this in mind, proactive municipalities aren’t waiting; they are moving quickly into the planning and implementation phases.

While there is long transitional journey ahead with unforeseen challenges, there is also a world of opportunity that lies in store. For municipalities contemplating green energy initiatives, the timing couldn’t be better.

What is a Smart Grid?

A smart grid is the application of information technology to improve the functioning of the electricity system and optimize the use of natural resources to provide electricity.
There are six primary objectives:

1.    Operate low-carbon distributed generation (i.e., smaller-scale decentralized solar, wind and hydro power generators);
2.    Use consumption data to conserve electricity with the aid of the next generation of smart appliances and equipment;
3.    Charge variable prices and shift consumption patterns to manage peak electricity demand;
4.    Improve service reliability and minimize disruption from power outages;
5.    Advance the use of electric vehicles and the transition to the electrification of transportation; and
6.    Connect electricity storage technology to optimize use of low-carbon generation.

BRIAN NASH is the founder of Haliburton Solar and Wind , located in Haliburton Ontario. He is the lead designer and systems integrator for his company which specializes in advanced off grid and hybrid grid tied battery based systems. Brian has considerable knowledge and experience with complex multi input battery based system design and implementation. 
Brian is the recipient of the 2015 Intersolar Award a prestigious North American Award recognizing landmark projects that exemplify a high degree of technological innovation, uniqueness, economic feasibility and benefit to the environment and society.
He can be reached at 705-455-2637.

as published in Municipal World, January 2017





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