Proving the Business Case for the Internet of Things

Canada and Israel collaboration using military knowhow to improve smart grids

Steve Rogerson
July 14, 2015
The Canada-Israel Industrial R&D Foundation (CIIRDF), together with EllisDon from Ontario and Rafael Advanced Defense Systems from Israel, are collaborating in smart grid technology that aims to develop a novel and sustainable approach to energy management.
Valued at $14m, this R&D project aims to adapt technologies for defence applications and develop a next-generation smart grid management system that improves energy efficiency and conservation, reduces waste, and lowers costs for utilities, operators and customers.
CIIRDF awarded $1m to this bilateral team through the Canada-Israel Science & Technology Energy (CIEST) Fund.  Once developed, the companies aim to pilot and commercialise the product in 2016, and capitalise on the global smart grid market, which is expected to exceed $60bn by 2020.
“This project delivers on the vision of the CIEST Fund and CIIRDF more broadly,” said Henri Rothschild, president of CIIRDF. “It draws on decades of Israeli technology expertise in defence, and applies it to address energy challenges and deliver sustainable electricity. Given the increasing importance of smart grids, this system promises to gain global market traction. In the coming years, this innovation is expected to generate tens of millions for both countries. This return is many multiples of CIIRDF’s investment in this project. This is the power of the CIIRDF approach to partnering and bilateral project development.”
EllisDon is a construction services company with more than 60 years’ experience in many types of construction in 18 countries. Rafael develops defence command and control, computing and communications systems that provide situational intelligence in real time. With support from CIIRDF, EllisDon will apply Rafael’s defence technology expertise to its energy assets, and develop a system that changes the management of district energy and microgrid systems.
“This is a first critical step towards the development of a long-term relationship between Rafael and EllisDon,” said Robert Barnes, director of managed services at EllisDon.  “Together, we will build new products, technologies and systems that directly impact our local community, and improve the lives of citizens for generations to come. Moreover, these innovations will enrich the energy management market place, and help to redefine the role of the smart grid. This project creates a unique opportunity for EllisDon and Rafael to demonstrate leadership on global energy solutions.”
The project also engages municipal partners Guelph Municipal Holdings, industry partners, and academic collaborators at the University of Guelph, the University of Waterloo and Sheridan College. 
Piloted in the Canadian city of Guelph, the emerging system will use command and control and situational awareness capabilities developed for the defence sector to monitor and manage thermal and electrical energy delivery to a district or region. It will gather real-time information from the grid; facilitate access to renewable fuel sources such as solar power and biofuel; and provide a central point of smart grid control. This will let smart grid operators and service providers take action that lowers operational expenses while reducing carbon emissions and waste.
When deployed, the system should help reduce Ontario’s carbon footprint, and directly support Canada’s goal to reduce national greenhouse emissions by 30 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030. For the energy consumer in Ontario, this is intended to provide efficiencies in the delivery of district energy and community energy projects with focus on lower energy delivery costs and improved environmental protection. Moreover, the firms expect to create 50 jobs, with on-going development and consulting services in Israel and Canada by 2018.
“This bilateral project exemplifies the value of Canada-Israel R&D partnerships in energy and the value of CIIRDF as a platform for bilateral collaboration,” said Avi Hasson, chief scientist at Israel’s Ministry of Economy. “The novel application of Rafael’s expertise in defence systems to smart grid management systems will set a new precedent in the energy market. Given the increasing demand for new solutions to complex energy challenges, I am confident this CIEST Fund project will deliver significant economic and environmental benefits to Canada, Israel and other nations around the world.”
Rafael is the largest employer in northern Israel with approximately 7000 employees and numerous subcontractor and service suppliers. It is a leading defence company, with 2014 sales of $2bn, an order backlog of $5bn and a net profit of $90mn.
“Rafael is delighted to contribute to this CIEST Fund project, and apply decades of defence and system of systems development and knowhow to address energy challenges,” said Roni Potasman, executive vice president at Rafael. “This initiative will expand our market reach, creating new commercial opportunities for our firm. Today, more than 850 district energy systems are deployed across North America alone, and the capacity of combined heat and power is to grow by 40GW by 2020 according to GlobalData. Our collaboration with EllisDon will enable us to capitalise on this and other global smart grid markets, while creating a more sustainable approach to energy management.”