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Canada invests $964M in electricity grid modernization

To modernize Canada’s electricity grid to produce more clean energy, the federal government has f...

SREPs, NRCan, grid, electricity

Canada’s smart grid technology (Courtesy, NRCan)

To modernize Canada’s electricity grid to produce more clean energy, the federal government has followed through on its budget promise with the announcement of the $964-million Smart Renewables and Electrification Pathways (SREPs) program.

The upgrades will result in lower greenhouse gas emissions and make clean electricity accessible to more Canadians.

The SREPs funding is spread over four years, according to Seamus O’Regan Jr., Canada’s minister of natural resources, who made the announcement. The funding will be invested in grid modernization and clean, renewable energy technologies including wind, solar, storage, hydro, geothermal, and tidal. These renewables will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by replacing fossil fuels and facilitating the electrification of the economy.

“Our new Smart Renewables and Electrification Pathways Program will increase our grid’s renewable capacity and improve its reliability and resiliency,” O’Regan said in the announcement. “This means a cleaner, more reliable electricity supply for Canadians. This is how we get to net zero by 2050.”

The initiative was announced during the Canadian Electricity Association‘s (CEA) virtual regulatory forum on Electricity Regulation and the Four Disruptors — Decarbonization, Decentralization, Digitalization, and Democratization, which occurred during Canadian Environment Week (which took place May 30 to June 5).

Which companies can apply

Eligible companies can submit formal requests to register projects under the SREPs program. Financial support will be provided during the construction phase, provided grid modernization projects use market-ready technologies and apply workplace equity, diversity, and inclusion components. Projects must fall under one of the following categories to be eligible for SREPs compensation:

– established renewables, such as solar photovoltaic, onshore wind, or small hydro;

– emerging technologies, including geothermal or energy storage;

– grid modernization, including micro-grids, virtual power plants, or structures that possess grid service-enabling hardware or software.

The application process involves four steps:

  1. Review requirements;
  2. Submit registration form via email;
  3. Fill out and submit program information form sent by staff;
  4. Await decision following application review.

A portion of the funding will be saved specifically for Indigenous-led projects. The project will continue to accept applicants until all the funds have been allotted.

Why electric grids have become crucial in combating climate change

The importance of electricity has become especially apparent during the pandemic; powering healthcare systems and communications devices, which have become more important as people have had to isolate due to travel and work restrictions. But transmitting electricity can result in much of it being lost en route to its intended sources due to technical issues, such as wire resistance causing electricity to escape as heat.

This, in turn, results in the release of tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Plus for every kilowatt-hour that is wasted as heat, production must be increased to compensate for the loss.

The creation and use of more localized grids prevent electricity loss as it travels from its source to its recipient, which could cut greenhouse gas emissions by half a billion metric tons per year. Grids have also become an increasingly popular solution to the climate crisis due to their ability to create a cleaner electrical system, which will help Canada achieve its climate change commitments and reach net-zero emissions, leading to a healthy, sustainable future.

Canada already has one of the cleanest grids in the world with more than three-quarters of its electricity supply emitting no greenhouse gases (GHGs). However, there is still room for improvement, and this ongoing grid modernization will help solidify the country as a leader in clean electricity generation.

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