A new neighbourhood under construction in Northeast Moncton - called North Branch – will become New Brunswick’s first solar powered neighbourhood. Today, NB Power, along with partners Solaire Homes and Siemens Canada, has launched this new project that will see up to 100 highly energy efficient and “zero energy-ready” homes built.
These homes will have the latest smart energy technologies, such as home energy management systems, rooftop solar panels and smart energy storage batteries.
This new development will be an economic driver for the region and province with a provincial information technology workforce building the technological platforms for global markets and local trades and craftspeople building the homes and installing the technologies.
The fully tech-outfitted homes are expected to range in price from $270,000 for a semi-detached to $400,000 for a single-family home with energy savings more than expected to cover any extra costs in construction materials and for the technologies. The neighbourhood is expected to eventually include up to 100 homes leading to an increased municipal and provincial tax base and serve as a renewable energy-powered showcase for the City of Moncton.
The goal of North Branch is to create a self-sufficient neighbourhood where NB Power and Siemens can learn from homeowners looking to take advantage of new smart energy technologies. Each home will be built to the highest energy efficiency standards and consume energy being generated by their own solar panels and stored in their own home battery. Each of the homes will function as its own unique nanogrid to optimize the home’s energy use - while also being connected to the neighbourhood microgrid. Home-generated solar energy will be traded and exchanged in a variety of scenarios including between homes, up to the microgrid and out to the main grid. Essentially each homeowner will be their own micro-electric utility trading with their neighbour.
Siemens Global Smart Grid Research and Development Centre in Fredericton will build the in-home nanogrid and the neighbourhood microgrid platforms which will serve as the energy management systems for the homes and the neighbourhood overall. The department of Innovation, Science and Economic Development provided funding for the leading-edge technology components of the project in January 2019.
This neighbourhood energy exchange will allow NB Power to work with customers to better understand their evolving energy needs as it relates to future energy management options. It’s a future where there is wide-scale adoption of these smart energy technologies, and homes and businesses become independent entities - or nanogrids - and turn to the grid only for back-up and support. That kind of scenario has significant technical and financial implications for utilities and their customers, and this new smart energy neighbourhood will help NB Power learn about and prepare for that potential future.
The North Branch Smart Energy Neighbourhood Project in Moncton is part of a four-year federally funded research and demonstration program called Smart Grid Atlantic that includes NB Power, Siemens and NS Power. Smart Grid Atlantic is aimed at determining how smart energy technologies can provide customer, community, and provincial benefits, while reducing our energy use and our carbon footprint. The first Smart Energy Community Project has been underway for about a year in Shediac with nearly 500 homes participating, and the new North Branch Smart Energy Neighbourhood will be the first new neighbourhood in New Brunswick to support this kind of research. A third sister project to the work underway in Shediac and North Branch is expected to be announced in 2021.