Too Much Wind Power? Use Smart Grid Storage

Is there such a thing as too much wind power? The small city of Summerside, located on Canada’s Prince Edward Island, is home to approximately 15,000 people and 21 MW of wind energy. However, sometimes the city does not need all that power and is forced to sell the excess to neighboring regions. A novel pilot program using electric heating and smart grid solutions aims to keep the wind power – and its associated benefits – within the city.

Nonetheless, Summerside Electric has to export about 7.5 million KWh of excess wind power every year, and the municipal government wants to keep the energy within its borders. That is where Summerside’s smart grid project came in.

Ultimately, the municipality developed the Heat For Less Now program: an initiative to install advanced electric heating units, as well as supportive smart grid solutions, at residents’ homes. By incentivizing its residents to heat their houses and water using electricity rather than oil or gas, the city says the program will increase the local consumption of surplus wind energy.

The Heat For Less Now program and the associated smart grid efforts are only in their infancy. It took about six months to get one-tenth of the community fiber-wired and a year and a half to get the Heat program off the ground. The beta pilot phase of the project was supposed to reach 100 homes, but the project has only installed 103 electric thermal storage units on 54 premises and 115 smart meters on 56 premises thus far.

Going forward, the goal is to get electric heaters to 500 homes and then call it a proven beta system. Also, the city plans to eventually expand its wind farm and become an even greener community.


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