WATERLOO October 23, 2012 - Researchers at the University of Waterloo have come up with a bold vision to transform energy delivery in Canada: smart energy networks (SENs) that connect electricity grids, natural gas pipelines, renewable energy resources and district heating networks into a single, integrated system.
As a new report from the Waterloo Institute for Sustainable Energy describes, this would allow "smart" appliances and equipment to switch seamlessly between energy sources, using advanced information technology to make the best choice at any given minute based on price, demand and availability.
"It's time to rethink the way energy services are provided to Canadians," says John Wen, lead author of the report. "Smart energy networks have the potential to reduce greenhouse gases, meet growing energy needs, provide reliability and stability, and lower the costs to consumers."
The 152-page report was released today at www.wise.uwaterloo.ca/sen, along with summaries and a series of infographics. It lays out definitions, conceptual models, technical considerations, and recommendations for moving forward.
According to report co-author Ian Rowlands, the next steps will be undertaking market feasibility studies, launching pilot projects to investigate optimal configurations and scales, and working with stakeholders to move the agenda forward. "This kind of transformation won't happen overnight, and there are many questions still to be answered, but we believe SENs could help make Canada a global leader in sustainable energy," he says.
The SEN research was funded by $10,000 grant from Union Gas and involved researchers from the University of Waterloo's Faculty of Engineering and Department of Environment and Resource Studies.
The Waterloo Institute for Sustainable Energy (WISE) is a recognized leader in promoting innovation through research into advanced sustainable energy systems. The multidisciplinary institute brings together more than 90 faculty members from across the University of Waterloo to undertake leading-edge research with utilities, government agencies and private-sector partners.
Director, Waterloo Institute for Sustainable Energy
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