Proving the Business Case for the Internet of Things

Siemens, NB Power and UNB launch Smart Grid network

William Payne
February 3, 2016
Canadian utility New Brunswick Power, the University of New Brunswick and Siemens Canada are collaborating to develop a smart grid ecosystem pilot with the aid of developing technology and implementation, funded with C$8 million in cash and in-kind over next five years in initial phase, with support and funded in part by the Canadian federal and provincial governments.

The Smart Grid Innovation Network (SGIN) is a joint testing platform that aims to serve as a catalyst for innovation and the development of a next generation electricity eco-system in New Brunswick, while supporting opportunities for innovation that can be applied to the global energy marketplace.

The SGIN is centered around three interconnected labs, each with a number of virtual and physical elements. Each lab will be led by one of the SGIN partners and will serve as on-ramps to business and organizations from New Brunswick and around the world, to innovate, design, test and take to market, products and services in the smart grid and sustainable electricity space.

The Smart Grid Research Lab at the University of New Brunswick will provide R&D in the early stage of the innovation cycle, and a platform for developing new smart grid concepts, models and algorithms to feed into technology development; as well as to support testing in a simulated grid environment. This lab will also support advanced power systems research and education, coupled with hands-on real world experience.

The Interoperability Lab at Siemens will conduct R&D and allow vendors to test the interoperability of various smart grid product and services components, by providing a configurable sandbox environment for innovation partners.

The Products and Services Lab at NB Power will conduct R&D, utility grid interoperability testing, and support acceptance testing by validating product requirements and compliance readiness. NB Power will also support training and provide a platform for outreach and demonstration activities.

SGIN is intended to offer a single point of contact for local and global companies for smart grid related development and testing, as well as provide R&D and demo support and build capacity for developing, sharing and supporting smart grid development. To assist this, SGIN will host workshops and conferences to engage and exchange knowledge among users and potential users of the network, facilitating this fast-paced and fluid innovation smart grid environment.

Governance for the SGIN will be structured formally with Lab Coordinators at each of the three physical lab sites managing staff and reporting into a recently appointed Innovation Officer who reports back to the Executive Oversight Committee and Steering committee presiding over the project.

For its part, Siemens plans to invest more than C$1 million in cash and in-kind over the next five years into the SGIN and its Interoperability Lab. NB Power expects to invest in the order of $2 million in cash and in-kind in its Product and Services Lab; and UNB has also committed upwards of $2 million in cash and in-kind, including NSERC project research funding, to the unique venture.

At a governmental level, SGIN is also supported with $2 million in federal funding from the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA), as well as $840,000 in provincial government investment by Opportunities New Brunswick (ONB).