Rebel with a Cause
How a Canadian power utility together with Siemens is shaping the smart grid of the future.
What isn’t changing? The energy landscape is in a massive transition with changing market requirements, society’s changing awareness of energy, fast changing technology and climate changes. This transition requires consistency which is exemplified in the partnership between the Canadian electrical utility NB Power and Siemens. They are working together to build a smarter grid for New Brunswick with attention to customers who care about reliability, costs and having new energy options for how they power their lives.
When they started working together, it was not quite clear where it was going to lead but the interest in a long-term commitment was there. Now six years later, the two companies still see lots of collaboration opportunities to continue their unique partnership and the long-term roadmap they set out to complete.
Society’s awareness of energy is changing dramatically.Keith Cronkhite, Senior Vice President, Business Development & Strategic Planning, NB Power
The vertically integrated utility in Atlantic Canada, spanning over generation, transmission and distribution had a clear demand of increasing the system-wide reliability, injecting more variable renewable energy into the grid, and meeting peak winter demands. NB Power is working to establish an advanced smart grid, with Siemens at its side, and meanwhile playing a pioneering role in this new chapter of how to produce, distribute and use energy.
Customers talk business
“Society’s awareness of energy is changing dramatically. Consumers are looking for energy products and services that give them more comfort and convenience, enable them to consume energy in different ways, and give them more control over their bills. They are looking for lowering their impact on climate change and taking advantage of these new technologies”, Keith Cronkhite, Senior Vice President, Business Development & Strategic Planning at NB Power explains. “The smart grid is the way to accomplish this.”
Piloting the future
In New Brunswick, the Siemens teams created EnergyIP DEMS (Decentralized Energy Management System), a technology that can send commands to the devices of NB Power’s customers and help shift demands to manage peaks. Originally DEMS was tested with smart thermostats and water heaters to shift demand before heating loads peak in January and February.
During the smart thermostat pilot, NB Power was able to preheat homes a couple of degrees before people rose in the morning and then turn off the thermostat during their morning routine. This reduced the baseboard heating load on the grid over the peak morning hours without compromising customer comfort.
Communication is absolutely the backbone of grid modernization and optimizing the smart grid capabilities going forward.Keith Cronkhite, Senior Vice President, Business Development & Strategic Planning, NB Power
Now NB Power and Siemens are considering demand response programs for commercial and industrial clients. The masterplan is to enable these programs through automation.
Smart is combining the traditional with a new telecommunications grid
A smarter grid connects the traditional electricity grid, built in the last 100 years, with a digital communications network to allow for a two-way communication between the utility and its customers – in order to better understand, manage and control devices connected to the grid.
“Communication is absolutely the backbone of grid modernization and optimizing the smart grid capabilities going forward”, says Keith Cronkhite.
Government, industry and Siemens with a common goal
Seeing the potential of smart grid technologies and its economic advantages, the Federal Government, NB Power and Nova Scotia Power (NSP) and Siemens Canada announced the $92.7 million Smart Grid Atlantic project in January 2019. Research and development on smart grid in Atlantic Canada, starting in New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, will focus on a new Energy System Platform (ESP).
The new Energy System Platform will optimize the overall electrical grid to accelerate transitioning into a greener future, not only in Canada but across the globe.Faisal Kazi, President and CEO of Siemens Canada.
Siemens will research and develop the made-in-Canada ESP software based on its EnergyIP platform. NB Power and NSP will provide the needed assets and customer engagement to demonstrate and test these platforms in real scenarios and real time. The aim is no less than to shape the smart grid of the future.
"The ESP will enable data analytics, ensure connectivity, and provide tools for developers to create customer-focused applications and services. The platform will also optimize the overall electrical grid to accelerate transitioning into a greener future, not only in Canada but across the globe”, says Faisal Kazi, President and CEO of Siemens Canada.
Picture credits: Siemens / NB Power
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