Commercial Innovation and the Evolution of DER’s

Commercial Innovation at GRE is paramount to supporting our industry partners and the overall market growth of DER’s in Ontario. Presently, DER markets are riddled with labels and unverifiable news. Our objective is to participate and drive innovation in projects and technology where commercialization appears to be imminent, but in all cases, verifiable. Where industry standards such as EcoLogo ™ exist for energy reductions, carbon savings, or cost savings, GRE will pursue them.

The more options we can make available to our clients, the more we contribute towards our goal of building an adaptable and resilient grid. Environmental unpredictability increases the demand for local DER energy supplies that can also shore up existing infrastructure.

Whether the next advancement in energy technology will come from emerging tech or finding new and better uses for existing tech, we are committed to advancing electrification. Our commitment supports the formation of networks that develop innovative partnerships in DER’s and successfully combine projects that support individual operations, their bottom line, and the grid. GRE partners are credible leaders in their industries at finding new solutions, identifying systemic problems, and innovating new combinations of technology and applications to support this next phase in the evolution of DER’s in Canada.

Innovation Projects

Innovia Geo-Pile Demonstration Project

Ground source heat pump (GSHP) based heating and cooling systems utilize energy within the earth, well below ground level, to provide heating in the winter and cooling in the summer.  GSHP systems are well known for being the most efficient form of heating & cooling system for buildings, especially when combined with Variable Refrigerant Flow systems.  However, they are also known for their expensive installation costs due to the deep vertical wells required for efficient systems, which can typically be 600’ deep.

Grand River Energy (GRE) is pleased to be working with Innovia Geo Corp. and its Demonstration Project in Ontario to showcase and measure a new approach to reduce the installation costs of deep vertical wells using a “geo-pile”.  The geo-pile integrates heat exchange functionality into structural foundation piles commonly used in building construction to substantially reduce GSHP implementation costs.


As a company focused on “Distributed Energy Resources” (DER’s), GRE is particularly interested in this technology because of its potential to “electrify” heating and cooling systems in buildings.  Furthermore, heat pumps are a form of “DER” that can be dispatched to reflect electricity market signals and potentially other electricity market revenue streams, especially when one considers the thermal storage component of geo-piles.

The single largest source of greenhouse gas emissions in buildings is from fossil fuel heating systems and with an electricity grid that is virtually carbon-free, Ontario building and homeowners may soon be able to tap into more carbon-free, efficient and commercially viable systems with geo-piles.

Innovia Geo Corp initiated the project and secured the funding from the IESO GRID Innovation Fund, the Ontario Centres of Excellence and MITACS.  A research team from Ryerson University has been retained to model and verify the performance of the system.  GRE helped locate a suitable site to host and showcase the demonstration project at Waterloo North Hydro, who has actively pursued geothermal energy projects already for its new office building and sub-stations.