Industry Perspective: Understanding Barriers to Smart Grid Adoption

As a neutral, third-party convener, MaRS Discovery District (MaRS) conducts research to help advance industry and ecosystem transitions across sectors. To help the energy industry overcome barriers to the adoption of smart grid technologies across Canada, MaRS has conducted both stakeholder interviews and secondary research in order to highlight the main challenges and barriers facing the smart grid sector.

Canada is at a potentially critical point in its recovery from COVID-19 where investment in smart energy systems are well positioned to add jobs, economic productivity and contribute significantly to GDP. A study by Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) on the effect of U.S. investments in smart grid technologies after the 2008/09 banking crisis found that $1M of direct spending on smart grid projects generated $2.5 – $2.6 million in GDP and employed over 47,000 people. The unquantifiable nature of the environmental and social impacts of investing into current smart grid technologies – beyond estimated reduction in greenhouse gasses such as nitrous oxide, sulfur dioxide and carbon dioxide associated with reduced fossil fuel use and an increase in efficiencies associated with energy production and consumption – are exacerbated by the barriers outlined below in this report. Smart grid technologies’ cross sectoral applications offer benefits to multiple sectors – including the electricity sector – in overcoming barriers to customer quantification, acquisition and retention, as well as cross sectoral collaboration.

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