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Canada-Israel collaborate on smart grid R&D

Aims to revolutionize energy management


The Canada-Israel Industrial R&D Foundation (CIIRDF), together with EllisDon, Mississauga ON and RAFAEL Advanced Defense Systems Ltd. Haifa, Israel, have agreed to collaborate on smart grid technology with the aim to develop a novel and sustainable approach to energy management.

Valued at $14-million, this ambitious and ground-breaking R&D project will adapt technologies developed for civilian defense 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 $1-million to this bilateral team through the Canada-Israel Science and Technology Energy (CIEST) Fund. Once developed, the companies aim to pilot and commercialize the new product in 2016, and capitalize on the global smart grid market, which is expected to exceed $60 billion by 20201.

EllisDon is a world-leading construction services company with more than 60 years of experience in many types of construction in 18 countries. RAFAEL is a world leader in the development of defense command and control, computing and communications systems that provide situational intelligence in real time. With support from CIIRDF, EllisDon will apply RAFAEL’s defense technology expertise to its energy assets, and develop a new system that revolutionizes the management of district energy and microgrid systems. The project also engages municipal partners, Guelph Municipal Holdings Inc. (GMHI), industry partners, and academic collaborators at the University of Guelph, the University of Waterloo and Sheridan College.

Piloted in Guelph ON, 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 accurate, 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 enable smart grid operators and service providers take action that lowers operational expenses while reducing carbon emissions and waste. There are no competing products with such capabilities on the market today.

When employed, the system will help to reduce Ontario’s carbon footprint, and directly support Canada’s goal to reduce national greenhouse emissions by 30 percent below 2005 levels by 2030. For the energy consumer in Ontario, this innovation 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 new jobs, with ongoing development and consulting services in Israel and Canada by 2018.

“This project delivers on the vision of the CIEST Fund and CIIRDF more broadly,” said Dr. 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, initially Guelph. 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.”

“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, Ministry of Economy, Israel. “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.”

“This is a first critical step towards the development of a long-term relationship between RAFAEL and EllisDon,” says Robert Barnes, director managed services, 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.”

“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 Dr. Roni Potasman, executive vice-president R&D of 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 to grow by 40 gigawatts by 2020 according to GlobalData. Our collaboration with EllisDon will enable us to capitalize on this and other global smart grid markets, while creating a more sustainable approach to energy management.”