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UPEI research team funded to map the Island's energy future

Dr. Matthew Hall, Heather MacLeod, and Dr. Andrew Swingler.
Dr. Matthew Hall, Heather MacLeod, and Dr. Andrew Swingler. - Submitted photo

Two Island researchers envision a carbon-free future with wind, water and light

Charlottetown, P.E.I. - Two researchers at UPEI’s School of Sustainable Design Engineering have been awarded funding from a national research organization, Mitacs, to develop a way to increase renewable energy integration and decrease reliance on fossil fuels on P.E.I.

With $150,000 from Mitacs Accelerate and the P.E.I. Energy Corporation, Dr. Matthew Hall and Dr. Andrew Swingler will hire three graduate students and begin building a map towards making the Island’s energy system 100 per cent carbon free.

“Prince Edward Island has a significant amount of renewable energy generation in the form of wind energy,” said Hall, an assistant professor. “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, explained 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,” said Swingler, an associate professor. “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 collaborate with the P.E.I. Energy Corporation, which will provide essential data, knowledge of the market, and networks of industry expertise.

“Prince Edward Island is a leader in wind energy and well positioned for leadership in emerging renewable energies,” said Heather MacLeod, Energy Assets manager at the P.E.I. Energy Corporation.

“We are pleased to partner with the University of Prince Edward Island’s School of Sustainable Design Engineering on this important research,” she added.

The project will build a simulation-modelling tool for the P.E.I. electrical system to explore a range of renewable energy integration solutions. The team will also analyse the rising role of electrical vehicles on the Island, including impact on electricity load.

The final goal is to pave the way towards a 100 per cent renewable electricity supply for the Island.

“It’s going to happen,” said Swingler. “We’ve got our eyes on the prize. We’re looking towards a carbon-free energy system.”

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