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Impact Canada Cleantech Challenge – Canada-UK Power Forward Challenge



We think it's essential for communities and individuals to be able to play their part in the decarbonization of the energy system.

We are progressively shifting from a centralized top down approach to a more distributed world.

Net Zero by 2050 has accelerated the need to connect more renewable energy sources to the grid in a cost effective way.

With heat pumps, electrification of heat and transport with electric vehicles. They're going to put a massive strain on the network.

The Power Forward Challenge brought together international consortia of Canadian and UK companies

The goal? To develop innovative smart grid technologies, which manage increasingly large and complex groups of distributed energy resources (DERs)...

…and create a cleaner, more flexible, and more reliable electricity grid for 2030 and beyond.

Seven finalist teams were selected to develop pilot-scale demonstrations of their technology solutions and compete for the $1M Grand Prize.

Let’s see these breakthrough technologies

Lobna El Gammal, Senior Solution Specialist, Opus One Solutions

We have built a joint product solution that supports distribution system operators of the future in managing flexibility in a way that's safe, reliable and cost effective. The two software that we've integrated are Opus One's GridOS optimization engine and Kiwi powers Kiwicore market operator interface. Democrasi provides distribution network and system operators visibility to distribution connected assets that are participating in energy and capacity markets at the transmission level, for example, and that visibility doesn't exist. And allows assets to participate, both in bulk markets and local flexibility markets that we expect to see in the future This innately incentivises further adoption of distributed energy and clean resources.

Syed Mir, VP Corporate Services & CIO, London Hydro

Our innovation is really based on an open data standard - green button - that allows us to share consumption data for DERs. To know where we can go from a carbon point of view. For example, we aligned EV charging to wind or solar and EV owners say, “that's great, I'm totally green”. We're looking at also potentially trading renewable energy carbon credits, which we refer to as green energy credits. It'll be used by consumers, prosumers, DSOs and ISOs and the utility to access real time data, to know what's happening performance wise, to do better forecasting and shifting what we need to do for EVs, for example, off of peak hours. And also promote more DERs in battery storage, and create more prosumers at the end is what we're looking for.

Jeremy Lutes, Partner, Equilibrium Engineering

We know that we need to generate renewable energy and store it when it's not being produced. Our system through battery storage does that. The most important thing to know about our technology is the A.I. functionality. So there are stackable benefits for residential, commercial, industrial property owners and operators, as well as the utility, through weather prediction, resource management, renewables - AI functionality is the key here.

Louis Heywood, Project Manager, Q Energy

Basically we combine groups of customer sites together and then optimally match them with localized renewable generators. Making use of battery storage and demand flexibility, we minimize energy buying at carbon intensive periods. This delivers substantial savings for all.

Alex Schlicke, Co-Director, Scene Connect

As the energy system transitions to one dependent on variable renewables, you need flexibility on the demand side so that the energy demand is matched with the generation. ZUoS builds a model of the local energy system. In that way we understand DER assets installed across the community and we can better match variable renewable generation with demand profiles.

Rhys Williams, Innovation Project Manager, SSEN

We're enabling flexible services to connect to our network on a much larger scale than we've ever been able to do before. In the UK at least, we have to curtail our wind turbines - so we’ve got to shut them off if it gets too windy. And that’s because, you know, our networks get overloaded. But through flexible services, we can actually intelligently charge electric vehicles and heating systems while the wind energy is high.

And it's probably going to be much cheaper as well for them to be charging with all this extra wind generation on the network.

Thomas Alisi, Software Engineer, Unit9

The real estate industry needs to be decarbonised, and that's a massive task. Smart buildings, distributed generation is going to happen in the near future. And basically, we are giving the built environment the tools to plan the roadmap of investment and execute on that.

How did the Power Forward Challenge help your team?

I've been in the industry for over 30 years, I've never been involved in this kind of competition bringing together a regulated business, a start-up, academics. And we were able to really achieve our milestones.

Power Forward allowed us to de-risk the initial investment needed to validate our approach.

It helped us understand the Canadian market and how our platform and services could be standardized to a global scale.

It has made a tremendous impact in our businesses, the business in Nova Scotia. We're making a difference. And we've made friends overseas.

With the continued addition of new distributed energy resources (DERs) such as electric vehicles, renewables, batteries, and smart devices, the demands placed on our electricity grids are becoming increasingly complex, and innovation is key to develop, maintain, and maximize the potential of clean, flexible, and reliable electricity grids and energy systems.

That is why the Power Forward Challenge brought together consortia of Canadian and UK companies to develop innovative smart grid technology solutions that can help aggregate and manage large groups of DERs, support their integration to the grid, and enable the provision of clean, flexible, and reliable electricity for 2030 and beyond.

The Power Forward Challenge was a prize competition jointly launched by Natural Resources Canada (NRCan) and the UK Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS) under the Canada-UK Partnership on Clean Growth and Climate Change and Mission Innovation. In addition to accelerating the development and adoption of smart grid technology solutions in Canada and the UK, the Challenge also gave Canadian and UK companies the chance to gain international exposure and explore new business and partnership opportunities through consortium building.

The Challenge provided innovators with financial opportunities at different stages of the competition, including seed funding to build capacity and allow SME participation, project funding to help selected finalists deliver a pilot-scale demonstration of their high-impact solution in either Canada or the UK, and a grand prize to further support the winner and their promising solution.


  • Launch – October 2018
  • SME Financial Support – In January 2019, NRCan and UK BEIS awarded seed funding to a select group of promising small and medium-sized enterprises to help develop their consortium team and proposal for the Challenge. 10 Canadian SMEs selected from 70 submissions each received $100k.
  • Finalists Selection and Funding – In June 2019, 7 finalist teams (3 Canada-led; 4 UK-led) were selected among 14 semi-finalists who all pitched their solution to a panel of expert judges. 44 project proposals had originally been received. Each finalist team received up to $3.15M to develop a pilot-scale demonstration of their solution in either Canada or the UK over 26 months.

Grand Prize

  • In March 2022, Equilibrium Engineering was awarded the $1M Grand Prize at the Globe Conference in Vancouver for their Alba Nova project. It was selected among the 7 finalists by a new panel of expert judges, which considered the design, delivery, and outcomes of projects as well as the scale-up potential and commercialization plans for the demonstrated solutions.

Challenge Collaborators

  • MaRS Discovery District

Finalists & Projects

Equilibrium Engineering (Canada) – Challenge Winner

with StorTera, Dalhousie University, and Berwick Electric Commission

Project Alba Nova (funded by NRCan) – Intelligent energy storage systems that can increase the market uptake of renewable energy, turn customer sites from cost centers into revenue generating assets, and provide value to the utility grid operator. Learn more about the Project Alba Nova.

Bracebridge Generation (Canada)

with Opus One Solutions, Kiwi Power

Project DEMOCRASI (funded by NRCan) – Software solution to allow the local distribution network assets, for instance solar and storage, to participate in bulk and local electricity markets. Learn more about the Project DEMOCRASI.

London Hydro (Canada)

with Electron, ENMAX, University of Western Ontario, Guidehouse, Gowling WLG

Project London 2 London (funded by NRCan) – An open data platform and an energy trading marketplace to incentivize customers with distributed energy resources (e.g., EVs, solar) to participate in grid management. Learn more about the Project London 2 London.

Q Energy (UK)

with ICONICS Canada, Energy Systems Catapult, Bruntwood, Manchester Metropolitan University, Hildebrand, Penso Power, Dunsky Energy Consulting

Project Energy-IQ (funded by UK BEIS) – Smart energy services for small non-domestic buildings (e.g., peak power reduction) that leverage load flexibility, renewables, and battery storage. Learn more about the Project Energy-IQ.

Scene Connect (UK)

with Enbala, Locogen, Mentone Energy Consultancy

Project Cloud ZUoS (funded by UK BEIS) – An energy services platform for households and businesses to better match demand with renewable generation in local communities and provide optimal grid and electricity costs. Learn more about the Project Cloud ZUoS.

Scottish & Southern Electricity Networks (UK)

with Opus One Solutions, Hydro Ottawa, Open Grid Systems, University of Cambridge EPRG

Project Merlin (funded by UK BEIS) – Software tools conducting both system optimization and cost-benefit analyses to help system planners make decisions for grid reinforcement and flexibility. Learn more about the Project Merlin.


with Integrated Environmental Solutions, Boost Energy Ventures, Utilismart, Energy Systems Catapult, Skanska, UCL Energy Institute, Sheffield University

Project Energy Open Piazza (funded by UK BEIS) – Digital platform for real-estate operators to analyse building energy consumption and help them deploy clean, efficient solutions for their built environment. Learn more about the Project Energy Open Piazza.

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