B.C. enhances the grid: How Vancouver-area cleantech companies are making the grid smarter

Sitting in your work office or home den reading this, you’ve probably got ceiling lights on, perhaps a lamp as well, and of course your computer running, if not also a television nearby.

Barring a powerful wind or thunderstorm, or a lightbulb in its dying ages, none of these lights or appliances flicker. Volts are constantly powering these electrical devices, and seemingly at a very steady pace. But that much is illusion. The truth is, there are tremendous fluctuations in how many volts are being sent through the grid to power your home or office.

And while these fluctuations may not affect the performance of your cubicle or kitchen, they do affect many business with large commercial spaces, where inefficient grid systems result in pure waste.

The newly touted “cleantech” industry ignited the inception of many new B.C. companies: Lignol Innovations in the biofuel sector, Day4 Energy in solar, and Delta-Q Technologies in the field of electric vehicles.

But it’s a couple of Vancouver-area companies that are smartening up the grid we power our province with.

Burnaby-based Legend Power Systems has mastered the art of steadying voltage sent through the grid: it’s developed an electrical harmonizer that adjusts incoming voltage. This technology is already being sold to big-box retailers, manufacturers, and, to name names, Ikea and Science World (or, to the politically correct, “Telus World of Science”). This technology enhances the efficiency of the grid, resulting in savings through energy conservation.

Another prime example is Tantalus Systems, also based in Burnaby, which also believes in “smart” grids. Tantalus is more focused on home savings than Legend, by installing intelligent meters in one’s home. These meters are wireless and sit near your existing meter. They track energy consumption of utilities in real-time in a way that allows homeowners to easily track, analyze, and adjust their personal energy consumption, putting them in control of energy usage, and therefore, the money they spend on it.

Vancouver’s own Energy Aware Technology builds on this concept. This award-winning startup can tell you how much energy your house is drawing at any given moment. And soon, the company will devise a smartphone app, which would—and this is totally awesome—allow you to manage your utilities remotely.

Credits to Brent Holliday and BCBusiness.