FREDERICTON (GNB) – Smart grid technology has been identified as a significant growth opportunity in the government’s economic development plan.

“New Brunswick is poised to become an industry leader in smart grid technology, thanks to an already solid foundation in that sector, as well as in cybersecurity and information technology,” said Economic Development Minister Francine Landry, who is also the minister responsible for Opportunities NB.

A smart grid is an electric power system with high levels of renewable generation, low carbon emissions and high reliability. There is increasing demand for the hardware, software and services needed for this industry, as spending on smart buildings around the world is expected to increase from $6.3 billion in 2013 to about $21.9 billion by 2018. Additional forecasts have estimated the number of home automation and smart meter devices online will rise to more than 20 billion by 2020.

This potential for growth is why the government selected smart grid technology as an area to explore in the New Brunswick Economic Growth Plan.

“Smart grids support initiatives to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, interconnect and dispatch renewable generation sources, and complement climate change strategies, all while connecting with provincewide cybersecurity initiatives,” said Landry.

The benefits include producing cleaner forms of generation, delivering energy to market more efficiently and empowering consumers to manage all aspects of their own energy consumption and generation.

Work on developing this sector is already underway. Last year, NB Power, Siemens Canada and the University of New Brunswick launched the Smart Grid Innovation Network. It provides local and global companies with a testing platform to drive innovation and support business ideas.

“New Brunswick plans to boost the number of companies in the province focused on smart grid technology from eight to 12 in the coming years, and will attract more research opportunities in areas such as energy efficiency,” said Landry.

Opportunities NB is taking the lead on determining the initiatives and economic potential associated with the smart grid opportunity. The agency will be supported by partners in both the private and public sectors.

Opportunities NB is a Crown corporation that seeks to attract and support opportunities to grow the economy and create jobs. It provides support services for businesses across the province.