The Canadian government is providing C$1.5 million over three years to establish the Electricity Transition Hub – a knowledge-sharing platform for its diverse utilities sector. The hub was launched today at the Electricity Transformation Canada event in Toronto.

While Canada benefits from a high percentage of carbon-free electricity in its power grids, thanks in large part to established hydropower, its path to full decarbonization is far from certain. To facilitate the process and build the capacity of its various public services, a knowledge sharing platform was funded by the Canadian federal government.

The Electricity Transition Hub was launched today and will be managed by the Canadian Renewable Energy Association (CanREA). Speaking at its launch, the hub’s senior manager, Phil McKay, said that while the initial funding will get the hub off the ground, the intention is for the initiative to prove itself and become “self-sustaining” after the three first years. .

McKay noted that knowledge sharing between regional utilities is of great importance given the diversity of Canadian utilities.

“In Canada, we have a representation of many of the different networks that exist around the world, from island systems to fully integrated metropolitan areas,” McKay told pv magazine. “So what we’ve heard from each of these utilities is actually quite different depending on their context, which is why it’s very important for us to tailor the information.

“So we’re not looking for a single silver bullet here, we’re looking to help with the transition in each of these regional contexts, cultural contexts and the existing infrastructure that’s there.”

The Electricity Transition Hub already has 13 inaugural partners, including Alberta Electric System Operator, BC Hydro, City of Medicine Hat, EPCOR, Essex Power Corporation, Fortis Inc, NB Power, Manitoba Hydro, Ontario Power Generation, Qulliq Energy Corporation, SaskPower, Toronto Kingston Hydro and Utilities.

Accelerate deployment

Robert Hornung, outgoing President and CEO of CanREA, said the Electricity Transition Hub will play a very important role in informing Canadian utilities about the rapidly changing landscape of renewable energy technologies, at a time when the industry must accelerate to meet Canada’s decarbonization goals.

Canada has set a national goal by law to achieve economy-wide net-zero emissions by 2050. The country also has a goal to implement a zero-emission electricity grid. by 2035. To achieve those goals, Hornung, who has a nearly 20-year career in Canadian organizations in the renewable energy industry, said the deployment of solar and wind power must accelerate rapidly.

“To get to a net-zero trajectory, we think we’re going to have to add 30 GW of wind and solar over the next eight years,” Hornung said. photo magazine. “The good news is that we already have commitments, procurement processes in place that will get us to at least half of that total. And now it’s about making sure those are put in place. work successfully and make sure we move on to the other half.

Limited Distributed Energy Resources (DER)

Hornung acknowledged that distributed solar and energy storage continues to play a limited role in Canada’s energy mix, although provincial governments and utilities are increasingly willing to drive its adoption.

“I think it’s fair to say that at this point in Canada, we don’t have the same frameworks to support this deployment that we’ve seen in other countries.

“We are seeing some signs that governments are willing to review net metering and net metering frameworks in the future, and allow more business or customer procurement – ​​which is rare in Canada due to our vertically integrated monopoly utilities,” said Hornung. . “But this innovation is being pushed forward now because people recognize that DER will play a role, but more importantly, customers are demanding it.”

Speaking at the Electricity Transformation Canada conference, Charge Solar CEO Jeff MacAulay said awareness of the cost competitiveness of rooftop PV among Canadian households and businesses remains low. Charge Solar is a rooftop photovoltaic panel distributor and engineering services provider that has been in the market for over 30 years. It claims to partner with over 1,000 installers across Canada.

“Awareness remains a major concern for us,” MacAulay said. “Solar energy is a new topic for many homeowners, and many are unaware that the solar LCOE is already lower than many utility rates. Public education remains a top priority for us.

Energy Transformation Canada 2023 will take place October 24-25 in Calgary, Alberta.

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