Advanced Energy Centre Joins MSL

The Advanced Energy Centre at the MaRS Discovery District (a leading innovation center in Toronto, Ontario, Canada) has joined MSL as a Member institution, bringing its significant and synergistic achievements in microgrids and local clean energy systems to our increasingly international mix of collaborators.

The Advanced Energy Centre (AEC), founded in February 2014, is a partnership between MaRS Discovery District, the Ontario Ministry of Energy and the private sector with CapGemini and Siemens as founding partners. The Centre’s mission is to foster the adoption of innovative energy technologies in Ontario and Canada, and to leverage those successes and experiences into international markets.

The Centre acts as a catalyst for the adoption of energy innovation by facilitating collaborative solutions-based approaches to addressing system barriers. Through public-private partnerships, the Advanced Energy Centre has four main programs that engage a diverse set of stakeholders — utilities, private companies, government agencies, academics and non-profits — towards integrated energy solutions. The Community Energy program explores the role of public policy, business models, and deployment considerations for microgrids and local energy systems in diverse regions of Canada, which aligns very closely with MSL’s cross-sector and interdisciplinary approach to accelerating microgrid progress.

In Canada’s remote communities, powered by an aging fleet of diesel generators, there are clear economic and environmental benefits to switching to clean and renewable energy resources, however misalignment of incentives and diffused benefits have inhibited widespread deployment of technologies such as wind, solar, or biomass. The Centre convened stakeholders in 2015 to examine the systemic barriers to deployment of renewable energy in Canada’s remote communities, and published a set of recommendations aimed at catalyzing new project activity and investment in remote clean energy systems.

The Centre is actively convening stakeholders to assess and forecast the role of grid-tied microgrid systems in Ontario, Canada’s most populated province. By examining the customer groups and use-cases for microgrids, the team seeks to inform policymakers and utilities about the economic drivers for microgrids, and the other benefits and drawbacks of distributed local energy systems. Preliminary research is now under development, and the findings will be published at a seminar in Fall 2016.

AEC’s Program Manager for Buildings and Community Energy, Aaron Barter, joined MSL’s David Breecker and Advisor Seth Blumsack at the 2016 Santa Fe Institute workshop on energy systems transformation, where he presented on several of the Centre’s activities, notably a serious game simulation that engages stakeholders in modernizing their electrical systems. The AEC also recently entered into two strategic partnerships to accelerate the roll-out of microgrids in India, another area of shared concern in the MSL portfolio. We look forward to working with the AEC across our many points of common interest.