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B.C. researchers with 1st-in-Canada energy modelling centre take aim at decarbonization

Three schools collaborating to provide evidence-based energy models, inform governments
Madeleine McPherson, a UVic civil engineer, was instrumental in the creation of Canada’s new Energy Modelling Hub . (Courtesy of UVic photo services)

Teaming up with other post-secondary schools, University of Victoria researchers are using modeling and simulations to help decision-makers choose the best way forward to cleaner energy sources.

Spurred by a $5-million federal investment, UVic researchers have helped form the national Energy Modelling Hub (EMH), which also includes Polytechnique Montreal and the University of Calgary.

UVic’s Institute for Energy Systems will lead the technical side of the hub, with the centre being based in Quebec and the University of Calgary providing economics and policy expertise. Madeleine McPherson, a UVic civil engineer, was instrumental in the hub’s creation.

“We need modelling to see into the future to show us how to make the best decisions to remove carbon from our energy systems,” McPherson said in a news release.

“Then we need to get that information into the hands of the decision-makers who can turn net-zero into a reality.”

The modelling uses computers to simulate energy systems that are too vast and complex to replicate in a lab. Those models will aim to give insight into how built energy infrastructure will impact the climate and vice versa.

READ: UVic study shows great potential in Cowichan estuary and others to capture carbon

“Energy models are tools that allow us to ask those exploratory questions before we make massive investments in new systems that will last for decades and cost us billions of dollars,” McPherson said.

Canada is doing some good energy modelling work, but the country lacked a central institution, said the civil engineer, who used to be a researcher at the Colorado-based National Renewable Energy Laboratory, the U.S.’s primary energy data centre.

The models, tools and other materials will be openly available to others working in the same area.

“The more of this work in decarbonization that we can do, the better for everyone and the better for the planet,” McPherson said.

National Resources Canada said the hub will provide evidence-based insights and made-in-Canada solutions when it comes to decarbonization.

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About the Author: Saanich News Staff

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