Simply put, a smart-grid is a developing suite of technologies that create a two-way exchange of information and electricity between the utility and the customer. The evolution of yesterday’s grid into tomorrow’s smart grid facilitates integration of newer technologies thus allowing the different elements to work in tandem.
These elements include:
- Smart meters and advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) for energy storage
- Advanced grid controls and sensors
- Accessible energy data for end-use demand response
- Innovative policies and adaptive social infrastructure (still in development)
The resources below provide entrepreneurs in this sector with information to better understand the ecosystem in which they operate.
This page contains the following sections:
I. Business of Smart Grid
These resources will help you find funding and mentoring resources specifically geared for smart grid startups.
Smart Grid Accelerators and Incubators
Be sure to also check out our general listing of Accelerators and incubators.
CTA CleanTech (The Canadian Technology Accelerator, The Canadian Trade Commissioner Service): CTA CleanTech works with small- and medium-sized Canadian companies that are gaining traction in the market and have a scalable technology innovation and connects them with resources and contacts that can boost growth. These services may span demos and strategic partnerships, financing opportunities, education and access to mentoring. The CTA offers a virtual program in select American cities for cleantech entrepreneurs.
Global Cleantech Cluster Association (GCCA): To become a member of the GCCA, a company must be later-stage (revenue-generating, or pre-revenue with proven demonstration and potential to scale) and be nominated by one of the GCCA’s cleantech clusters. MaRS is a cluster of the GCCA, as are Montreal-based Écotech Québec and Vancouver-based GreenTech Exchange.
Industrial Research Assistance Program (IRAP) (National Research Council Canada): Through IRAP, Canada’s National Research Council aims to develop technology to accelerate the commercialization of Canadian companies. To this end, IRAP provides advisory services, networking and linkages, funding and a youth employment program to qualifying businesses.
The Cleantech Open: The mission of The Cleantech Open is to help entrepreneurs develop innovative clean technologies. The group runs a competition where winning startups receive a set of services to help grow their business idea. The competition’s scope is global and the startup must fall under one of the following categories:
- Air, water and waste
- Energy efficiency
- Renewable energy
- Green building
- Smart power, green grid and energy storage
Smart Grid Funding
Visit the Startup Library’s Funding your startuppage for general funding information.
Conservation Fund (Independent Electricity System Operator, IESO): The ISEO provides financial assistance to support pre-commercial technologies or initiatives to for-profit or not-for-profit organizations that have the potential to improve conservation or demand management.
Emerging Technology Program (Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corporation [NOHFC]): The NOHFC supports research, development and commercialization projects that demonstrate a high commercial potential. It also fosters collaborative activities among industry and research institutions and encourages successful innovation in small companies. Its maximum investment does not exceed 50% of $250,000 eligible project costs.
ArcTern Ventures: ArcTern Ventrues (formerly the MaRS Cleantech Fund) provides $1,000,000 to $4,000,000 in funding to early-stage companies that have a proven global market opportunity and hold strong intellectual property, among other requirements.
Smart Grid Fund (Ontario Ministry of Energy): The Smart Grid Fund is designed for Ontario-based smart grid demonstration and capacity-building projects.
Sustainable Development Technology Canada (SDTC): SDTC runs the SD Tech Fund and the NextGen Biofuels Fund, which expire in June 2015 and September 2027, respectively. The $5,900,000 SD Tech Fund supports late-stage development and pre-commercial demonstration.
II. Trends in Smart Grid
The following resources examine trends in the smart grid sector.
Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO): The IESO website has a page entitled The Smart Grid in Ontario, which links to various industry reports. Another offering from IESO is Ontario’s Smart Grid Forum. Formed to envision what the smart grid would be in Ontario, the Ontario Smart Grid Forum is a valuable source of information regarding policy and regulatory developments. Hosted by the IESO, the Forum is an industry initiative and includes many other stakeholders, such as the Ontario government, the Ontario Energy Board, the Ontario Power Authority, as well as Ontario’s research and development centres and manufacturing sector and retail customers.
Ontario Utilities and the Smart Grid: Is there room for innovation? (MaRS, 2012) (PDF):This report summarizes where Ontario utilities’ smart grid policies and technology stood in 2012 and analyzes where they could be headed. It also highlights the global frontrunners in the sector.
The Market Impact of Accessible Energy Data (MaRS, 2012): This study examines the economic impact, market scope and growth potential of the innovation economy that will be created by establishing appropriate standards and mechanisms to allow data, including the date of electricity consumption, to be used in new solutions.
SmartGrid Canada: A national industry association, SmartGrid Canada is dedicated to promoting a more modern and efficient electricity grid for the benefit of all Canadians.
Smart Grid in Canada – Overview of the Industry in 2010 (CanmetENERGY, Natural Resources Canada, 2011) (PDF): This report surveys the electricity sector and smart grid development across Canada.
The Canadian Smart Grid Standards Roadmap: A strategic planning document (2012) (PDF): This publication was produced in partnership with Natural Resources Canada and the Standards Council of Canada’s Canadian National Committee to the International Electrotechnical Commission (CNC/IEC). This paper covers:
- Smart grid policies, legislation and regulatory overview
- Privacy and security requirements
- Transmission and distribution standards
- Metering systems standards
2010 U.S. Smart Grid Vendor Ecosystem Report on the companies and market dynamics shaping the current U.S. smart grid landscape (Cleantech Group LLC, 2010): This study provides a market analysis for advanced metering, demand response and distribution grid management. It offers market snapshots for home energy management, building management and grid interconnection.
DOE Energy Storage Database (U.S. Department of Energy [DOE]): This database lists projects and policies relevant to energy storage devices. Note that it does not cover all countries―some are absent, such as Japan.
Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency (DSIRE): This US database, which is categorized by state, is a robust source for information on energy efficiency and renewable energy policies and regulations. It also houses details on related incentives and programs.
ES-Select™ Tool (Sandia National Laboratories): The ES-Select™ Tool was developed with the objective of increasing the understanding of different electrical energy storage technologies. It is a public tool that helps users review different energy storage technologies for use in the intended applications for these devices.
Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC): FERC’s website contains a page on smart grid that covers industry activities from a regulatory perspective. The left-hand column of this page contains links to other sections of the site that are related to smart grids, such as demand response and integration of renewables. The right-hand column has links to relevant websites and documents (e.g., legislation, white papers).
Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy (EERE): This arm of the U.S. Department of Energy runs the Federal Energy Management Program, which details US energy incentives programs through an interactive map. This clickable tool provides comprehensive summaries of available incentives by state.
Smart Grid (National Institute of Standards and Technology [NIST]):NIST’s website provides information on the development of interoperability standards for the smart grid. It is crucial for entrepreneurs to understand the potential market evolution, expansion and opening of new markets that these standards enable.
SmartGrid.gov: SmartGrid.gov is a federal US information portal regarding the smart grid. Its resource center has a robust and searchable publication list that includes presentations, reports and papers. The site houses a section on Recovery Act Smart Grid Programs, which features reports on key developments and case studies. SmartGrid.gov also includes a section on Federal Smart Grid Initiatives: this content covers legislation, policies and programs, and information on the Federal Smart Grid Task Force.
Smart Grid Information Clearinghouse (SGIC): This resource, developed by the U.S. Department of Energy, is a portal for case studies, demonstration projects, policies, regulations, best practices and standards related to the smart grid.
Smart Grid Resource Center (Electric Power Research Institute [EPRI]): This resource center features news, reports, presentations, papers, events and more. EPRI has published several technical reports of interest to startups―make sure to look through their Resources section.
Sustainable Energy in America 2016 Factbook (Bloomberg New Energy Finance): This publication covers the state of the US energy mix, looking at sector trends.
Bloomberg New Energy Finance: Bloomberg New Energy Financeprovides industry news, white papers, presentations, podcasts and more, all pertaining to clean energy investment.
Centre for Energy Advancement through Technological Innovation (CEATI International): This organization is user-driven, seeking technology solutions for electric utilities. CEATI brings together different parties to solve issues through technical projects, and it facilitates information exchange through industry events and interest groups. While not exclusively smartgrid focused, reports pertaining to the subject do appear. CEATI makes some documents publicly available.
IEEE: IEEE’s site is global in focus and covers smart grid standards, see their resources section for additional insights. While their publications are behind a paywall, you can access their monthly newsletter for free on the site.
III. Smart Grid Statistics
The following resources provide statistics for the smart grid industry.
eGRID (United States Environmental Protection Agency [EPA]): eGRID, the Emissions & Generation Resource Integrated Database, houses data on the environmental features of electric power generation in the US.
Energy.data.gov: Energy.data.gov is a US government enterprise that gathers datasets and tools from various US federal agencies, with the aim to bring together resources that will enable in-depth insights on energy performance. Information on the US Energy Data Initiative can be found on this website as well.
Open Energy Info (OpenEI): Sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy and developed by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, this resource provides information on US smart grid projects and energy storage demonstration projects. It also stores and makes available energy datasets.
SmartGrid.gov: SmartGrid.gov is a source of information regarding smart grid and US government sponsored projects. In this site can be found valuable statistics under the following categories:
U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA): The EIA website offers many useful resources and reports that provide insight into the smart grid industry.
- Alternative Fuel Vehicle Data – On this webpage, the EIA publishes research on electric vehicles, including fuels used, supplier data and policy information. Last updated in 2014.
Google Smart Metering Projects Map (Energy Retail Association, UK): Using Google Maps, this tool locates and describes smart metering projects and initiatives around the world.
European Commission: On its website, the European Commission offers a page on smart grids and meters. On this page, click on the link called “Smart Grids: from innovation to deployment”―this leads to a publication containing many useful statistics. The smart grids page of this site also links to the EU 27 key figures document, Eurostat and more.
Statista: Statista publishes a range of relevant statistics such as market size, projected investments and the number of smart meter shipments.
IV. Tracking Latest Developments in Smart Grid
The following resources will help keep you up-to-date on the latest industry developments.
Greentech Media Greentechgrid: Greentech Media’s Greentechgrid is a valuable source of industry news. Users can sign up for its newsletter.
American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE): Has a page on smart grid, and advanced metering and behavior. Their presentations and publications are worth reviewing.
Canadian Electricity Association (CEA): Review their analytics and smart grid pages under resources. The CEA is also very effective in providing an overview of electricity markets and relevant policy in Canada.
Electricity Storage Association (ESA): The ESA covers industry news, legislation and regulation, in addition to technical information such as reports and application descriptions.
GridWise Alliance: This organization advocates for the smart grid. It posts white papers on key smart grid trends such as workforce, interoperability and project assessment.
SmartGrid Consumer Collaborative (SGCC): The SGCC maintains an extensive resource collection consisting of videos, reports, fact sheets, conference proceedings, filings, newsletters and more.
SmartGrid Canada: SmartGrid Canada’s mission is to educate energy providers and consumers on the benefits of modern “smarter” electricity systems, promote research and development of innovative energy technologies and advocate for national and provincial energy policies that support smart grid development.
Twitter is a great way to track industry trends and keep up to date on global issues. We recommend the following key handles: