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Solar Global Solutions

Solar Global Solutions
Project manager of Solar Global Solutions, Phil Mackenzie, installing the final touches on the deployable microgrid.

Leading the way, going off grid

Have you ever mastered a computer program and then suddenly a new version comes out and you're relearning everything? That pretty much sums up how professionals in the energy sector are feeling these days. Green energy technology is evolving at a speed we haven’t seen in our lifetime - which is a good thing, but it can be hard for businesses that aren’t ready and willing to adapt their services and products. The companies that see change as an opportunity rather than a threat thrive, and that is exactly what Solar Global Solutions (SGS) has been doing.

Over the past 25 years, SGS has transformed their business to support the green energy movement and follow market demand. They develop projects for utility, commercial, residential, and government clients in Nova Scotia and around the world. The manager of SGS, Sean Fleming, explains how their organization has successfully evolved over the past couple of decades:

"We meticulously follow the market and jump on opportunities when we see them. If you look at how our business has been changing - it's moved from traditional street lighting, to off-grid street lighting, to grid-tied solar. It was a natural progression for us to move into more complex systems with battery storage."

Their newest project, the Mobile Micro Grid Container, is a 20-foot shipping container that has the capability to create and store renewable energy. The container uses solar panels to generate energy and batteries to store it. If needed, it can connect to a generator, but the idea is to cut down on fossil fuels. This type of technology is in demand around the globe for isolated communities, disaster relief and military applications.

"Our approach is the best value - not the cheapest," says Fleming. "We work with high quality products that last and Canada offers great options. Most people assume we just sell, but we also design and manufacture. Our equipment is not made overseas, around 30 per cent is made here in Nova Scotia and the rest manufactured elsewhere in Canada."

Business opportunity drove Solar Global Solutions to design and develop the hardware for the deployable microgrid, while NSCC's Applied Energy Research Lab (AERLab) involvement is part of a bigger picture. NSCC research scientist, Dr. Alain Joseph, works with a number of local energy companies as an external research and development partner. The AERLab collects data and explores technologies to help industry improve their products, enhance processes, and grow their businesses.

"Like any new industry, people are trying to get in on the game," says Dr. Joseph. “We’re well-positioned in Nova Scotia to make a name for our region in energy technology. The local energy community has been growing at a steady pace and many suppliers already work together. As a port city, we're in an ideal location to export containerized microgrids."

With access to cutting-edge technologies, research personnel and funding, NSCC is a fitting home for Solar Global Solutions’ first deployable microgrid. The Applied

Energy Research team will assist in the testing and data collection in order to examine functionality, efficiency, energy generation capacity, and operating-cost.

With a common goal, NSCC's AER and SGS are collaborating on the Mobile Micro Grid Container with the intention to export. "Millions of people around the world have no access to reliable electricity. Just think of how these containers could improve lives," says Dr. Joseph.