Two researchers at the University of Prince Edward Island’s (UPEI) School of Sustainable Design Engineering (SSDE) have been awarded funding to develop a detailed technical framework for PEI’s electrical system to increase renewable energy integration and decrease reliance on fossil fuels.
With $150,000 from Mitacs Accelerate and the PEI Energy Corp., Dr. Matthew Hall and Dr. Andrew Swingler will hire three graduate students and begin building a road map toward making Prince Edward Island’s energy system 100% carbon-free, the university says.
Mitacs is a national, nonprofit organization that has designed and delivered research and training programs in Canada for 18 years. Working with 60 universities, thousands of companies, and both federal and provincial governments, Mitacs builds partnerships that support industrial and social innovation in Canada.
“Prince Edward Island has a significant amount of renewable energy generation in the form of wind energy,” says Hall, an assistant professor at UPEI’s SSDE. “But we are also heavily dependent on less clean electricity coming across the Northumberland Strait from New Brunswick.”
Moving toward a carbon-free system isn’t just about adding more wind and solar capacity, explains Hall. Further growth in renewable energy is constrained by intermittency of the power generation and storage costs.
“At the same time, we have new technologies coming online that will increase our power usage,” adds Swingler, an associate professor of sustainable energy systems at the SSDE. “Electric vehicles and new heating technologies mean we’ll be using more electricity, not less. And the idea is that ultimately all our electricity comes from carbon-free sources.”
The team will work with the PEI Energy Corp., which will provide essential data, knowledge of the market and networks of industry expertise, the university says.
“Prince Edward Island is a leader in wind energy and well-positioned for leadership in emerging renewable energies,” comments Heather MacLeod, energy assets manager at the PEI Energy Corp. “We are pleased to partner with the University of Prince Edward Island’s School of Sustainable Design Engineering on this important research.”
The project will build a simulation-modeling tool for the PEI electrical system to explore a range of renewable energy integration solutions. It will assess the demand response and energy storage potential in PEI and how they can be best leveraged. The team will also analyze the rising role of electrical vehicles in the PEI system, including impact on electricity load. The final goal is to lay out pathways toward 100% renewable electricity supply for the island.
“It’s going to happen,” says Swingler. “We’ve got our eyes on the prize. We’re looking towards a carbon-free energy system. ”