This week’s video is all about innovations that promote smarter and more sustainable energy management, whether it be improvements in energy policies, programs, or technology. Read on to learn more about energy innovations that are taking place right here in Canada!
Innovations in residential energy management
Recent widespread uptake of innovative energy management and technologies such as demand response programs and smart meters allow consumers to start managing their electricity use from home. This is important because electricity cannot be easily stored on a large scale, supply and demand must remain in balance in real time.
Demand response programs pay consumers to change their electricity consumption to match electricity system needs and variation in prices. In Ontario, pricing changes are the most effective way to communicate energy needs—higher prices arise when electricity supply is tight, encouraging consumers to shift their energy use to other times of the day. In a way, demand response allows energy users to act as “virtual power plants”, adding stability to the grid by voluntarily lowering their demand.
Smart meters record how much electricity is used and when it is used on an hourly basis, and communicates this information automatically to local utilities via wireless communication networks. This information can help improve residential conservation efforts by giving consumers the opportunity to think more about how they use electricity and better manage their electricity bill– i.e. reduce electricity use during higher price periods and shift electricity use to lower price periods.
Innovations in energy storage technologies
Energy storage technologies are a rapidly growing trend in the clean energy sector. Their principal advantage is the ability to complement intermittent renewable sources such as solar and wind power, making them more attractive and easier to integrate into the grid. They can also help utilities with peak shaving to reduce costs, and provide emergency back up power in times of grid instability.
Technologies that are currently being used in the market include: flywheels, battery storage, thermal storage, compressed air, and pumped hydroelectricity. Currently, the main problem surrounding energy storage is lack of large-scale deployment of bulk storage systems, which can to be overcome by regulatory progress as well as technical advancements.
Innovations in Power Grid and Renewables
Local microgrids have their own electricity generation supply and operate independently of a main grid. They can generate, distribute and regulate electricity in local communities reliably and responsively, and have been used for years in remote communities without access to central grids. Microgrids are considered “smart” systems because they can function either entirely on their own, or in coordination with the main grid when power cannot be generated on site. These systems typically integrate mainstream energy sources, such as natural gas and hydro, with alternative energy sources, such as solar, wind and biomass.
Watch the video clip below, and stay tuned for more from Our Power in the upcoming weeks for the launch of our complete video series, along with resources on how you can take action to help get Canada to 100% renewable energy as quickly as possible.