How can our homes contribute to the virtual power plant of the future?

Climate, energy and environmental issues are at the top of our list of priorities. Hydro-Quebec’s partner organization is offering the population a collaborative project – virtual power plant technology – that makes it possible to optimize their use. Power through a user-friendly app. A participatory way to fight energy waste at source, one house at a time

Over the past two years, Quebecers have been able to discover a home automation service, Hilo solution operation and benefits for managing electric power based on the latest advances in artificial intelligence. The ultimate goal of this initiative is to engage the population in an innovative solution that strongly contributes to the future of a green and sustainable energy for Quebec.

Major environmental and economic benefits Focusing on optimized management of electricity costs, Hilo Hydro-Quebec allows construction and maintenance of infrastructure such as dams, transmission lines and distribution stations to be limited. This improved energy management will create resources for Quebec and support its energy transformation and electrification. It is estimated that by 2028, Quebec’s joint virtual power plant will have as much power as La Romain-2, or more than 600 megawatts, equivalent to the electricity needs of 114,000 households. The more Hilo smart homes there are, the less waste there will be and the greater the environmental impact. And the concrete benefits will be both individual and collective. The advent of a new technology makes it possible for virtual power plants to manage clusters of homes and buildings equipped with devices and software that perform power consumption management and modulation. Thanks to this technology, we can estimate and control the power consumption of connected devices to meet the needs of the power network in real time, especially during peak hours during extreme cold.
“Power generation, whether from dams, wind turbines or solar panels, must always be equal to demand across the entire network to ensure infrastructural stability,” explained David Saint-Germain, Vice President, Technologies, Hilotte. To maintain this balance, when demand exceeds supply, virtual power plants can be considered as one of the available solutions. A

How does a virtual power plant work, right?
In concrete terms, each virtual power plant operates through a cloud computing system. “For example, to reduce costs at a given time based on a specific curve – the plant receives an order from Hydro-Quebec – then it sends multiple commands to connected devices, continue David St.-Germain. This ensures that each device that receives instructions from Hilo The setpoint temperatures of our thermostats can be reduced to avoid excessive power consumption during high demand without reducing our comfort. For instant improvement, we can even use our electric car batteries!

Democratization of smart home access Want to contribute to a concerted effort to reduce Quebec’s power footprint? The intuitive Hilo application allows participants to operate remotely connected devices – thermostats, outlets, light bulbs, dimmers, switches – that are installed in their homes with their smartphones. Those who have a compatible voice assistant (Google or Alexa) can even control their devices with their voice. The parameters of each device or instrument can be pre-adjusted or live to optimize power consumption. That way, we can decide to automatically activate certain switches at a certain time or even program the temperature of the thermostat down when we are away from home.

Collectively address energy challenges By adopting Hilo technology, participants agreed to tackle a number of challenges over a three-year period by minimizing their energy costs at the maximum. The challenge arises when the demand for electricity is at its peak and the network is under heavy load because at the same time a large number of consumers are using power-hungry devices. After pre-heating the dwellings, the Hilo application automatically performs a temporary reduction in the setpoint temperature of the connected thermostats. At the same time, the overall use of the house must be kept low by its occupants so as not to exceed the limits, for example avoiding the operation of large household appliances for a certain period of time.
David Saint-Germain explains, “Customers living in the Hello Smart Home will be urged to tackle the challenge by lowering their thermostat set point a few degrees at peak hours 30 times in the winter.” To thank them for helping to reduce electricity demand – and the upward pressure on electricity rates for all Quebecers – Hilo is offering them cash rewards. This year represents an average of $ 166. A
By integrating the behavior of responsible energy and using their necessary energy wisely to address collective challenges, participants reduce their annual electricity bills and help save the environment.

Visionary technology It is clear that our society must abandon GHG-emitting fossil fuels to combat climate change, and a recent IPCC report shows, black and white, that urgent work is needed. The transformation of electrical mobility is inevitable, but how to meet the increasing demand for this kind of energy use? “Now that the system is up and running, we risk creating a new cost peak if everyone recharges their cars at the same time as David Saint-Germain. To avoid this situation, back-up technologies are essential for cost sharing over time. All major power producers need to start within the next few years. And that’s where Hydro-Québec, its subsidiary, started with Hilo.

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This content has been produced by Le Devoir’s special publishing team in collaboration with the advertiser. Le Devoir’s editorial team had no role in creating this content.

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