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York University’s solar smart grid leading charge for clean energy push in Ontario.

On the heels of many of the world’s global powers finalizing the agreements of COP21, an ambitious proposal dedicated to easing the effects of man-made climate change, researchers in Toronto are easing the issue in a development closer to home. 

Last week, York University unveiled a smart grid solar-powered charging station, developed by the university’s own Faculty of Environmental Studies. Part of what makes the charging station unique was that it was developed specifically with Canada’s cold winters in mind, and as such, was created with more durability, according to York University professor and lead researcher Jose Etcheverry, whose team developed the smart grid charging station. 

The issue with creating effective solar panels for Canada is not necessarily the solar panels themselves, but what Etcheverry calls the balance of components. While the balance of components might work well in warmer climates, it may not see as much 
return in a colder climate like Canada’s.

“Picture using a solar-EV-battery system, like the one we deployed at York University, in the far north of our country, in the Sahara and Atacama deserts, the jungles of Costa Rica and the schools of Mumbai,” says Etcheverry. “For that to happen we require good design that yields durability, reliability, beauty, local support and modularity. These are all key design and performance parameters that we are trying to distill and foster with our installation.”

Data from the station will be used to inform the development of more smart grid solutions and expand the presence of electric charging stations, which will be connected to the power grid at York University. The station is designed in a way that it’s easily to install in most parking areas. “We are gathering technical and performance data from the systems to help inform the development of smart solutions in municipalities nearby and faraway,” says Etchevarry. “We are very open to innovative collaboration and look forward to new partners.”

At the unveiling of the station last week, Ontario minister for transportation Steven Del Duca says that projects like this will help ease the inevitable transition to clean energy. 

“The Ontario government is supportive of green, clean, innovative technology that will transform the way we live, move, work and adapt to our environment,” Del Duca said at the time. “Charging stations that are fast, reliable and affordable will encourage Ontarians to purchase electric vehicles, reducing greenhouse gas pollution and keeping our air clean.”
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