Canadian-UK funding for pilot smart grid solutions

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The Canadian and U.K. governments have teamed up to dedicate public funding to innovative projects to improve electricity grids.

The two nations have established the ‘Power Forward Challenge’, that will award the best three projects in each territory CA$3 million (£1.8 million) each to start building pilot facilities.

Among the winners, an additional CA$1 million (£600,000) will be given to the team with the best pilot demonstration.

The deadline for proposals is on March 15 and the scheme has a collaborative aspect, which stipulates each project must incorporate at least 20% of input from businesses in the other nation.

Projects have already had the opportunity of applying for CA$2 million – split between the two nations – to help finance their application process. The deadline for that aid expired last month but the Canadian administrators of the award told pv magazine applying for that support was not a requirement to submit project proposals by the March deadline.

Policymakers must keep pace with grid technology

With grids having to cope with – and benefit from – increasing electric vehicle adoption, a high penetration of renewable generation and the commercialization of storage devices, new technologies are required to maximize grid performance.

The awards donors said: “Solutions will need to be disruptive, modular, scalable and interoperable, and demonstrate clear value to the end user and the grid.”

The U.K. has already seen a slew of innovative pilot solutions, from Scotland to Cornwall, to support a flexible national grid.

At the smart networks conference held by the Westminster Energy, Environment and Transport Forum in London last month, Shadow Minister for Energy and Climate Change Alan Whitehead said the crucial question concerns at what point policymakers embrace the technological change demonstrated in pilot projects and formulate policies to enable grid transformation.

The Canadian-UK Power Forward Challenge project winners will be announced in March 2021. Eligible applicants – small and medium-sized businesses, non profit organisations, community groups and academic institutions – can contact the organisers here.