Micro-grid neighbourhood in Pickering Canada’s first planned solar-powered community

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Published August 20, 2021 at 3:32 pm

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A micro-grid community in Pickering – Canada’s first – features a localized electrical grid that saves homeowners money by augmenting their power supply and also providing backup power if there’s an outage.

There have been plenty of one-off, green-powered homes in Canada, but the Altona Towns community in west Pickering is the first neighbourhood to be planned from the start.

The 27-unit community is designed to reduce power cost and carbon emissions, increase power resiliency and show the potential of flexible energy systems by using the power of the sun.

The Altona Towns community, which is now sold out, has benefited from recent quantum leaps in technology as well as lowered costs for solar panels, batteries and other materials, but was still four years in the making, with most of that time dedicated to planning.

The builder, Marshall Homes, joined forces with Toronto-based software engineering company Opus One and Elexicon Energy to complete the project.

The microgrid’s design includes a 25-kilowatt solar-panel array on the roof of one of the housing blocks, providing an estimated 10 percent of the total power needed to run the community. There’s also a powerful Tesla stand-alone battery tucked away out of sight that stores excess electricity.

Commercial and residential buildings account for 12 per cent of Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions and Ottawa has been encouraging builders to retrofit older buildings or to ensure new developments are sustainable to help Canada meet its emissions targets.

The Altona Towns grid is expected to save homeowners 10 to 12 per cent on their electrical bill.

With files from Kira Vermond, MaRS Magazine

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