In 2016, Siemens Canada, NB Power, and the University of New Brunswick (UNB) — with support from Opportunities NB (ONB) and ACOA — combined their efforts to create the Smart Grid Innovation Network (SGIN), solidifying New Brunswick as a hub of smart grid-related innovation.

Sonya Hull is a Consultant with Siemens Digital Grid, Energy Business Advisory Group. She is heavily involved in the organization of the SGIN’s Energy Innovations Forum, now entering its second year and taking place on October 1 and 2 in Fredericton.

ONB spoke to Sonya to learn to find out what to expect at this year’s forum.

ONB: What are some of the more interesting panels/sessions coming to this year’s Energy Innovations Forum?

New Brunswick Smart Grid Hull: Among other things, day one will see a presentation on Energy Storage from Fluence Energy’s Dan Wishnick. We touched on Energy Storage in a panel last year so we thought we’d expand on it with a full half hour speaker solely devoted to this rapidly evolving technology. Dan will be followed by Marco Maréchal, an e-mobility expert from the Netherlands, with a discussion of Smart Mobility. There’s plenty happening in that space with the rise of electric vehicles, driverless vehicles, and the push towards reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Marco will discuss the impact this will all have on both cities and citizens.

Katherine Hamilton, Chair of 38 North Solutions, will moderate “The Emergence of Microgrid & Community Energy Trading” featuring panelists from LO3 Energy, OpenADR Alliance, and NB Power. Anyone interested in blockchain technology will want to check out this panel. For an example of the type of thing we’ll discuss here I’d steer people towards the Brooklyn Microgrid Project – essentially peer-to-peer energy trading. NB Power’s Mike Bourque is working on some microgrid projects here at home, so this should be an interesting panel for New Brunswickers.

There’s also a cybersecurity aspect to that panel, which fits well with ONB’s work and New Brunswick’s existing strengths.

See the full two-day program

Indeed. ONB CEO Stephen Lund will speak on day two. What else can we expect that day?

TechImpact CEO Cathy Simpson will moderate the “Big, Open and Secure Data for Smart Infrastructure” panel, which will discuss the cybersecurity challenges surrounding critical infrastructure – the grid, power plants, etc. The panel will also hit on the customer aspects of big, open data in the energy sector, and opportunities for innovation that will follow. Again, this is a sweet spot for both New Brunswick and ONB/CyberNB. Siemens of course just announced our own global Cybersecurity Centre in Fredericton to leverage the province’s strong cybersecurity ecosystem. Dr. Martin Otto, head of our cybersecurity group our of the US will be part of that discussion.

UNB will lead a discussion on energy innovations for developing and emerging economies. As you know, New Brunswick is full of entrepreneurs doing some exciting things, and many of those people have had their careers sparked by being part of UNB’s Technology Management & Entrepreneurship (TME) department. One of those entrepreneurs, Caleb Grove, will be joined by Philippe Ossoucah of the African Development Bank to discuss, among other things, Caleb’s work to bring sustainable power to rural Africa with this company Mbissa Energy Systems. It’s a great story!

Today’s consumers want more data, and the ability to better manage their consumption. So day two will also see a panel, “Power to the People: Innovation Beyond Technology”, which will discuss the shift of power into the hands of homeowners and businesses.

The day wraps up with “The Future is Here: Utilities in Transition and the Need for Bold Leadership.” That discussion features NB Power’s CEO Gaëtan Thomas, the visionary that started us down this road. Gaëtan will be joined by Navigant’s Robert Wilhite and Blanca R. Perez of Florida Power & Light. This world-class group will talk about how utilities are reinventing themselves to meet the future head-on. They will touch on reinventing utility regulation and business models, electric vehicles, grid modernization, and more.

Sounds like the world’s best really are going to be in New Brunswick.

The SGIN is a feather in New Brunswick’s cap because there is nothing like it anywhere else in the world. Both ONB and ACOA recognize that we have a centre of excellence here. That kind of public sector support is crucial as we move forward and further establish New Brunswick as the place for smart grid-related innovation. This sector is moving fast and we all want to see this region lead the way in this fast-paced energy revolution.

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New Brunswick is poised to be a leading global hub for the testing, research, development, and commercialization of next-generation Smart Grid solutions. Interested in becoming part of our ecosystem? Contact us today.

Written by Jason Boies