A Montréal company’s innovative solar conversion and energy management system could have a significant impact on how solar energy can be managed at home.
Idenergy, a small renewable energy company, has hired three interns to work on design elements of their next-generation solar converters. The interns were hired through Colleges and Institutes Canada (CICan) as part of the Science Horizons Youth Internship Program funded by Environment and Climate Change Canada.
The company’s solar conversion and renewable-energy management platform is designed for grid-connected systems and off-grid customers. It integrates solar conversion modules, electric vehicle charger modules, and smart modules that allow customers to sell electricity to a power utility’s grid. The components are installed in racking systems that can easily be expanded.
The smart-grid converters are relatively simple for electricians to install and for owners to manage energy supply in their homes, even during power outages.
The interns include a mechanical engineering technician, a programmer, and an electronics technician. They have degrees or diplomas in fields such as telecommunications, renewable energy, electrical and mechanical engineering, and skills in prototype modelling. Two are graduates of Montréal’s École de Technologie Supérieure, a university that specializes in applied engineering and technology transfer.
“The funding allows us to bring resources to prototype design that we -- as a small company --couldn’t otherwise afford,” says Denis Bastien, Idenergy’s chief financial officer. “It’s a big plus that brings our costs down in the early stages of product design. And we also get a chance to get to know the interns.”
He says the company is pleased with “what the interns are bringing to the table” and it plans to hire two of them on a permanent basis. The third, a college graduate, is planning to go to university when she completes her internship.
Idenergy is working on a project with a Vermont power utility aimed at field-testing Idenergy’s energy platform.
About 6% of the utility’s residential customers sell solar-panel-generated energy to the grid. On sunny days, solar power can represent 15% of grid contributions, a surge that can cause network instability. Unless solved, the problem limits the addition of more residential solar power contributors to the grid. Idenergy’s electronic platform will allow the company to manage the electrical demand on their network better.
Idenergy is also known for its river-turbine technology that attracted worldwide attention and a wave of social media interest. River turbines convert the kinetic energy of naturally flowing rivers into electricity.
Bastien says there are relatively few players in Canada that do power electronics for renewable energy. Many of Idénergie’s employees are young and fresh out of college or university. This useful when working with brand new technologies, Bastien says: “Our technology starts with a blank sheet -- based on what is ideal for the customer. It is not a 10 or 15-year-old technology that has to be patched up.”
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