The British Columbia Institute of Technology (BCIT) and Siemens Canada enter into a new long-term collaborative relationship by signing a memorandum of understanding (MOU).

The agreement focuses on research and commercialization opportunities on smart grid cybersecurity and microgrids, identifying and pursuing application of new technologies in these growing markets.

The MOU signing took place as part of a best-practice sharing session and campus tour attended by BCIT and Siemens executives and stakeholders.

Recent shifts in the energy landscape in Canada, including the advancement of technologies and connectivity of electrical networks, have opened utilities to the possibility of attacks — compromising the integrity, reliability, and security of these networks.

Cybersecurity is a critical and mandatory issue for grid operators today — as the grid becomes more digital, it also becomes more vulnerable to cyber attacks. Per the MOU, Siemens and BCIT's Centre for Applied Research and Innovation (CARI) SMART group will enable knowledge-sharing and training to address gaps in Canada's critical public utilities infrastructure.

Siemens and BCIT will also focus on the emerging area of smart microgrids, specifically the development of technologies, components, and solutions for cost-effective and environmentally responsible electrification in Canada and around the world.

How microgrid solutions can address the topics of energy reliability, sustainability, resiliency, or economy will also be explored.

BCIT president Kathy Kinloch said: "With energy being one of the world's most challenging problems, Siemens and BCIT have been collaborating and leading innovation in this field for many years.

"Our partnership has been very productive and with the signing of this MOU, I am excited to continue working together to develop the effective operation and security for microgrids through solution based research."

BCIT and Siemens have an existing and long-standing relationship as partners in previous smart grid projects including BCIT's Smart Grid Laboratory Project, as well as the BCIT Energy OASIS Microgrid Project — the first campus-wide microgrid project in Canada.

Siemens Canada energy management senior vice president Faisal Kazi said: "Our energy systems are becoming increasingly complex with rapidly changing technology — the challenges and opportunities presented by smart grids, distributed energy resources and solutions such as microgrids underline the importance of the focus topics being pursued under this MOU .

"We look forward to further collaboration with BCIT, utilizing our strong relationship and combined expertise to explore opportunities towards the future of energy in Canada."

Siemens is a trusted partner worldwide for the development and extension of an efficient and reliable power infrastructure by providing products, systems, solutions, and services for economical, reliable, and intelligent transmission and distribution.

Siemens energy management global chief technology officer Dr. Michael Weinhold said: "Globally, Siemens is at the forefront of cybersecurity and microgrid solutions with a number of impressive solutions implemented and installed around the world.

"The microgrid solution jointly developed by Siemens & BCIT is a strong reference solution not only for Canada but around the world."