Canada is currently modernizing its infrastructure, integrating smart grid technology to tackle the challenges of climate change and rapid urbanization.

It’s an opportunity to reduce emissions and improve energy production, consumption and efficiency. Canada has an aging infrastructure that runs at high capacity and is vulnerable to increasingly common extreme weather events. A shift in energy production and distribution is anticipated due to a desire for low-carbon approaches and changes in consumption (growth in electric vehicles, for example). The potential benefits of smart grids include: facilitating microgrids, citizen-owned generation, greater energy storage management, autonomous demand response, maintaining cybersecurity, increased grid visibility and more.

NRCan recently announced a $100-million investment to fund more smart grid systems. The objectives of this investment are to better utilize existing electricity assets, foster innovation and clean jobs, and reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Smart electrical grids make better use of existing generation, transmission and distribution assets, increasing energy efficiency and ensuring safer and more secure delivery of electricity. Smart grids also help mitigate the negative effects of GHGs by boosting the hosting capacity of renewable energy, increasing resiliency and improving efficiency and conservation. In order to meet Canada’s target to reduce GHG emissions by 80 per cent by 2050, a focus on grid modernization is critical.


Energy Innovation Resources

Industry Perspective: Understanding Barriers to Smart Grid Adoption

This report provides an overview of the challenges and barriers being faced by the Canadian electricity ecosystem in attempting to adopt and deploy smart grid technologies. Download the report.


Industry Perspective: Smart Grid Technology Adoption in Canada

This report provides insights into the opportunities and challenges of smart grid technology adoption from the perspectives of Canadian utilities, energy associations, and system operators. Download the report.


Distributed Energy Systems white paper

Co-authored by Siemens Canada and MaRS, this paper outlines the advantages of distributed energy systems including: power system benefits, energy savings, improved power reliability and environmental outcomes. Download the white paper.

Going Global Report

This report provides a 360-degree view of the Canadian electricity market for UK and Canadian energy companies, to support the Power Forward Challenge. The report examines the energy and electricity landscape specifically related to smart grid and energy storage opportunities, as well as the business, social, political and legal frameworks and the country’s macroeconomic drivers. Download the report.

Canadian Trade Delegation to the UK

In February 2019, a select group of Canadian companies and organizations were invited to take part in a trade mission to London. In partnership with the High Commission of Canada in the United Kingdom and Carbon Trust, delegates gained insight into the UK energy market and cleantech landscape, and engaged directly with leading UK energy organizations. Download the slide deck presented by Carbon Trust.

Virtual Workshop Series: Accelerating the Adoption of Smart Grid Across Canada

This summary report provides an overview of the activities and outputs from the pan-Canadian Virtual Workshop Series to address barriers to the adoption of smart grid technologies. Download the report.


Virtual workshops

MaRS will be hosting a series of invite-only, pan-Canadian, virtual workshops this October and November to begin to develop solutions to barriers being faced by organizations attempting to adopt and deploy smart grid solutions. Attendees for these interactive workshops include senior leaders and key decision makers from policymakers, regulators, system operators, utilities, solution providers and other energy-sector innovators. Please email us if you require more information.


Power Forward Challenge

Founded by Natural Resources Canada (NRCan) and the UK Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, the Power Forward Challenge aims to bring together innovators from Canada and the UK to design disruptive solutions that can aggregate and manage large and complex groups of distributed energy resources. This will support flexible, stable and reliable power grids ready for 2030 and beyond.

Six finalist teams will be awarded $3 million each to start building their pilot projects, with an additional $1 million given to the team with the best pilot demonstration. Teams must be comprised of both Canadian and British innovators. These participants may represent utilities, academic institutions, non-profits and/or for-profit companies. Please note, the application window is now closed.


  • Deadline to submit proposals: March 2019
  • Semi-finalist teams proceed to pitch sessions: May 2019
  • Finalist teams announced: August 2019
  • Teams showcase their pilot-scale demonstrations: December 2020
  • Final award-winning team announced: March 2021

Informational webinar materials

Download the slide deck presented by NRCan during the informational webinars held in December 2018. View a recording of the webinar.

Podcast: ACTia and NRCan

Tune in to hear Jason Switzer of the Alberta Clean Technology Industry Alliance (ACTia) interview Graham Allen of NRCan, Canadian Lead for the Power Forward Challenge. Listen here.


Achieving a carbon-neutral future

The MaRS Energy Board provides strategic advice to MaRS leadership. The board helps MaRS and its energy-focused stakeholders achieve objects related to the production, delivery and consumption of electricity, gas and oil. Our aim is to unite the Canadian ecosystem, as well as address and solve major societal challenges. The board provides direction by sharing its knowledge and experience in areas such as:

  • Policy and regulation
  • Risk mitigation
  • Investment and financing
  • Domestic and international trade
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Achieving a carbon-neutral future


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