Smart Energy Instruments and Hitachi High-Technologies Corp. of Japan have unveiled the first component of SEI's planned chipset product line for smart grid applications in an event at MaRS Discovery District.

SEI is a client of MaRS' Cleantech practice and a key investment in the MaRS Cleantech Fund. Its semiconductor chipset is a measurement and communications core for smart devices used in the generation and transmission of electric power, with advanced time synchronization capability to provide real-time measurements vital to improving grid reliability and efficiency and accelerating the shift to renewable energy sources.

"Escalating global climate and energy challenges in the next decade speak to a dire need for technologies like ours," said D. Jeff Dionne, CEO of SEI. "In most of the developed world we've been spoiled with relatively good power reliability up to now. However, events like Hurricane Sandy and the double blackout for 600 million people in India last year, and Fukushima before that have shattered that perception. We are elated that our first silicon was a success and are excited about being the first to offer a high performance, industry-specific solution."

Canadian government leaders have made it abundantly clear that innovation leadership in smart grid is a key priority for Canada. SEI is one of the few semiconductor companies in Canada in the cleantech space, and the only one addressing grid infrastructure. Smart grid and smart energy technologies have been cited by more than one analyst as a trillion dollar opportunity, given the global importance of electricity and its impact on greenhouse gas emissions and climate change.

"To turn a grid into a smart grid, you need visibility. Highly detailed, real-time visibility on the grid is what SEI's chipset provides. It's so detailed you can even see which direction power is flowing," said Tom Rand, co-managing director, MaRS Cleantech Fund and SEI Board member. "Without low-cost, high-granularity visibility into the grid there's just no 'smart' to 'smart grid.' SEI provides unparalleled visibility at a highly competitive price."