Renewable energy graphic

Hybrid projects have huge potential: A conversation with Tom Levy

March 24, 2020

In the global transition to affordable, reliable, flexible and sustainable energy systems, Canada is playing an important role — and stakeholders across the country are embracing the change.

A recent report from the Generation Energy Council — a national group of experts, industry professionals and government leaders — articulates a vision that includes more investment in clean electricity, slashing energy waste and using more renewable fuels.

To learn more about how Canada is leading the charge, we caught up with Tom Levy, a senior wind engineer and head of wind energy research and development for Natural Resources Canada at the CanmetENERGY lab in Ottawa.

Electricity Transformation Canada: What are your thoughts about the progress we’ve made in transforming Canada’s electricity system? Are you encouraged?

Tom Levy: In the early days, we were trying to understand the tools that we would need at the system level to get to five or 10 per cent penetration [of renewable energy] within the energy mix. Now we’re talking about, “What does 100 per cent look like?” Now that systems have proven reliable at five and 10 per cent penetration, we can think bigger. The tools that were identified to support system reliability at these low levels are in use, and generally speaking, they work – this is now allowing us to think big – and 100 per cent is thinking big.

Canada has made progress. System operators and the industry have collectively advanced our understanding of how to operate power systems with reasonably high levels of renewables.

And there are a few examples in Canada that we can point to that have been able to successfully do so.

The question we are asking at CanmetENERGY-Ottawa is what’s next? How do we develop the tools that are needed to move us to 100 per cent? How do the grid codes need to evolve? How can we more effectively utilize inverter-based resources to support system reliability? What new tools will be needed?

ETC: What are your thoughts about the viability of hybrid projects that leverage wind, solar and energy storage?

TL: Based on our research, it is our understanding that multi-technology solutions will be necessary. It is unlikely that any single technology will achieve our carbon reduction goals.

So certainly, the interplay between wind, solar, storage and hydro — and interconnection and flexible and aggregated demand — are all expected to be part of that picture of what the future power system looks like.

Read full interview on ETC’s official website: