Photo: Illustration (Courtesy of BMT)

Sustainable Marine starts full-scale smart grid trials with various renewables onboard

Sustainable Marine’s tidal energy technology is set to play a central role in the Ocean Energy Smart Grid Integration Project, as final testing gets underway in Nova Scotia, Canada.

Illustration (Courtesy of BMT)
Illustration (Courtesy of BMT)

The BMT-led project was launched in December 2020 by Canada’s Ocean Supercluster as part of its Accelerated Ocean Solutions Program (AOSP).

Challenged with integrating multiple renewable and distributed power sources, including ocean energy solutions, additional project partners include Rainhouse Manufacturing Canada, University of Victoria, and Turtle Island Innovations (TII).

Together the consortium is aiming to design, build, and test a smart grid controller which integrates multiple energy sources and regulates energy distribution for islands and remote communities.

The work intends to increase the use of renewable energy while reducing the dependence on diesel power generation, according to project partners.

Working in close collaboration, the team has been able to advance through technology readiness levels (TRLs) at a steady pace to reach the biggest project milestone yet.

Namely, the project has entered full-scale testing at the Sustainable Marine’s substation in Nova Scotia, with teams on the ground connecting solar, tidal, and other energy sources to the BMT Smart Grid Controller to regulate and distribute power to a microgrid.

The primary renewable energy source will be provided by Sustainable Marine’s PLAT-I tidal energy device, the company informed.

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Jason Hayman, Sustainable Marine’s CEO, said: “We are delighted to be expanding our tidal energy remit in Nova Scotia by supporting the smart grid energy project. Our joint mission is to trial and prove up technologies which ultimately help decarbonize and drive greater energy independence for island and remote coastal communities.

“We believe the results will provide further evidence demonstrating the real value of tidal energy as a clean and predictable renewable energy source, which offers a complementary power profile to more established renewables such as wind and solar, ultimately bringing greater stability to the future green energy mix.”

Martin Moody, BMT’s principal electrical specialist leading the testing, added: “So far we’ve successfully tested prototypes, controlling and distributing river turbines, batteries, PV and generators to meet various load requirements. The fact that we’ve reached a full-scale testing opportunity is a success in and of itself and is a testament to the hard work and efforts of all the teams involved. But everyone is really excited to put this thing to the ultimate test.”

Various sources of power in fully off-grid microgrid

PLAT-I device (Courtesy of Sustainable Marine)
PLAT-I device (Courtesy of Sustainable Marine)

The BMT Smart Grid Controller is designed to efficiently manage and integrate an unlimited number of energy sources in a fully off-grid remote microgrid, the project partners said.

The integration of additional renewable energy sources is easily handled by modifying the control parameters versus expensive hardware changes.

The BMT-designed solution is said to be unique, as it utilizes commercial off-the-shelf components, along with a series of control parameters which effectively manage the energy optimization of the microgrid.

The control parameters operate as a grid controller that efficiently balances the output from each energy source to support the required loads and users of the grid.

“Over the next two weeks, power sources will be introduced one at a time until all sources are contributing. All eyes will be on the smart grid controller as it gets hit with its most rigorous testing to date,” the project partner said.

If successful, the project will be one step closer to commercializing the integration of ocean energy and renewable energy solutions to displace the dependence of diesel power in island or remote communities – a feat that would celebrate Canadian innovation and open the door for future Canadian R&D projects supporting blue technology and energy transition initiatives.

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