N.L. team wins national competition with IceGrid, to replace diesel plants in northern Canada

A group from Newfoundland and Labrador has won a national contest meant to find new infrastructure ideas for Canadian communities.

CanInfra Challenge meant to find new infrastructure ideas for Canadian communities.

The IceGrid team is made up of Brandon Copeland (left), Brett Favaro (centre) and Dave Lane (right). (Twitter/@LetsFishSmarter)

A group from Newfoundland and Labrador has won a national contest meant to find new infrastructure ideas for Canadian communities.

The team – made up of Brett Favaro, Brandon Copeland and Dave Lane – won the CanInfra Challenge for its IceGrid idea, which involves replacing diesel generating plants in small northern communities with wind-powered microgrids.

The CanInfra Challenge Ideas Contest was sponsored by federal and private sector banking and consulting groups, and after an extensive process, judges settled on IceGrid as the top-endorsed idea of the event.

"We went through multiple rounds and had to do a really intense question and answer. There was actually someone from Dragon's Den on the panel, so we had a real dragon there," said team leader and Marine Institute researcher Brett Favaro.

"Now communities that are interested in building something like this will have something they can cite, which [was] basically deemed by a panel of judges as worth investing in."

A graph explains how IceGrid could benefit communities that currently rely on diesel generating plants. (IceGrid)

The win means the team gets $50,000 — but doesn't mean the project is necessarily given the green light anywhere.

However, it does allow the three of them to start meeting with investors, members of government and officials from communities where the idea could work.

"Now the door is cracked open for this to go from a pitch to a project," Favaro said. "With the support of some of Canada's best networked and connected organizations, we'll figure out what pieces need to fall into place to make this real."

Favaro said ideas like IceGrid will become more and more sought after as Canada moves into the 21st Century.

As a lifelong advocate for finding solutions to climate change, he said the win is a chance that only comes along once in a lifetime.

"This is a opportunity to do something generational that will chart a course forward for our economy and for our communities in a sustainable an affordable way," Favaro said.

With files from the St. John's Morning Show