Catalyst for energy transition

Engineering

- Anne Tolson

土木工程师玛德琳·麦克弗森热衷于寻找有效的方法来过渡到清洁, sustainable energy system. 她的视野和研究是创建新能源建模中心的关键因素. Credit: UVic Photo Services

随着国家能源建模中心的建立,确保加拿大决策者在着手消除该国能源系统中的碳排放时能够做出最佳决策的愿景离现实又近了一大步.

On May 25, Natural Resources Canada announced $5 million toward the new Energy Modelling Hub (EMH), which will be led by a team of researchers at University of Victoria, Polytechnique Montréal and the University of Calgary.

世界杯押注平台官网土木工程师马德琳·麦克弗森的远见和研究一直是该中心创建背后的驱动力. The new entity aims to provide consistent, 向政策制定者提供关于如何最好地从化石燃料过渡到更清洁能源的循证工具和信息, such as wind and solar.

“政策制定者正在寻找途径来转变加拿大的能源系统,以实现气候目标,” says McPherson. “世界杯押注平台官网需要建模来看到未来,向世界杯押注平台官网展示如何做出最好的决定,从世界杯押注平台官网的能源系统中去除碳. 然后,世界杯押注平台官网需要把这些信息交到决策者手中,他们可以把净零化为现实.”

The work conducted by McPherson and contributing to the new hub reflects UVic’s commitment to climate action, as articulated in the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

Bridging the gap

加拿大的能源建模景观是断裂的,该中心希望将建模社区和决策者联系起来. Energy modelling is a process of using computers to simulate various parts of energy systems, which are too vast and complex to replicate in a lab. 这些模型帮助研究人员理解各种大规模“假如”情景的后果, and serve as crucial tools in making effective decisions about decarbonization, or the broad, systemic reduction of carbon.

世界杯押注平台官网试图预测未来20年或50年,世界杯押注平台官网试图了解复杂的事情,比如世界杯押注平台官网的建筑能源基础设施将如何影响气候,反之亦然,” McPherson explains. “能源模型是一种工具,可以让世界杯押注平台官网在对新系统进行大规模投资之前提出这些探索性问题,这些新系统将持续几十年,耗资数十亿美元.”

UVic’s Institute for Energy Systems (IESVic) will lead the technical side of the new hub, 继续开发和完善几年前在麦克弗森的指导下发起的能源模型和其他工具. Polytechnique Montréal将作为枢纽的总部所在地的行政中心, organizing workshops and coordinating outreach. The University of Calgary will bring economics and policy expertise to the group.

A vision takes shape

麦克弗森第一次有了建立加拿大能源建模中心的想法,是在科罗拉多州的国家可再生能源实验室(NREL)做博士后研究员时。NREL是美国能源研究和开发的主要中心, which works closely with American law makers.

“When I worked at the NREL, I witnessed a very effective vehicle for translating energy modelling work into decision-making,” says McPherson, 谁来自盐泉岛,一个位于世界杯押注平台官网和BC大陆之间的南海湾岛屿. “我突然想到,世界杯押注平台官网在加拿大真的没有类似的机构,这似乎是一个非常大的差距.”

While a lot of great energy modelling work is being done in Canada, there is no central institution to leverage this expertise to its full potential. 麦克弗森确信加拿大需要自己的中心枢纽——用能反映加拿大社会状况的能源模型和数据, political and historical realities, such as Indigenous community ownership, for example.

McPherson returned to Canada determined to fill the gap and found a perfect fit at IESVic. IESVic researchers focus on the deep decarbonization of energy systems, ranging from buildings and transportation, to power systems and geographical regions of every size.

“I think it’s safe to say that IESVic is the powerhouse for energy systems modelling in Canada,” she says.

Researcher Madeleine McPherson stands outdoors on UVic’s campus, with trees and buildings in the background.
McPherson is associate director at UVic’s Institute for Energy Systems (IESVic), which will lead the technical side of the new Energy Modelling Hub.

Laying the foundation

Since arriving at UVic in 2018, McPherson has built up a team of more than 20 graduate students and researchers, who have worked with her to develop three key software platforms: a database of energy system information; a growing repository of energy system models that span sectors, scales and vectors; and a visualization platform, which produces graphs and other visual aids to quickly communicate results.

When contacted by an eligible organization, McPherson works with that stakeholder to explore possible energy scenarios, using this software capacity.

“在过去的几年里,很多组织都参与了建模工作,” she says. “It is important work that I really believe must get done, 但是对于世界杯押注平台官网的团队来说,工作量太大了,世界杯押注平台官网需要将这项工作制度化.”

Examples of organizations that have reached out include: the David Suzuki Foundation, the City of Regina, The Transition Accelerator charity and several research labs.

决定使用哪种(或哪种)能源模型取决于组织试图实现的目标. For example, 转型加速器是一家致力于到2050年实现净零排放的慈善机构,该机构要求进行一项研究,研究如何整合西部四省的电力系统,从而帮助整个地区实现脱碳. In another case, 大卫铃木基金会希望探索到2035年实现加拿大净零电力的不同途径.

Going forward, 在世界杯押注平台官网开发的三个软件平台将形成新的国家中心的技术基础. 麦克弗森将聘请5名工程师和研究人员进一步开发这些平台,并与利益相关者组织合作.

Advancing climate action

The new EMH builds on the work of an earlier initiative, which was also funded by Natural Resources Canada. From 2019 to 2021, that group (with a similar name of the Energy Modelling Initiative) gathered data, held workshops and forums, 并建立了一份加拿大不同模型组的清单,以及他们使用的模型类型. 早期倡议的关键建议之一是创建一个像新的有效市场假说一样的机构.

领导早期计划的三名研究人员现在是领导新中心的四人执行委员会的一员:世界杯押注平台官网的麦克弗森, Normand Mousseau and Louis Beaumier both of Polytechnique Montréal. More recently, Blake Shaffer, of the University of Calgary, has joined the executive committee.

Ultimately, 麦克弗森的团队将开始将世界杯押注平台官网开发的技术平台转移到中央EMH,以进行长期的维护和开发. 预计该中心最终将通过向服务模式过渡而实现自给自足.

The work done by McPherson’s group — and the EMH — is open source, meaning that their energy models, other tools and training materials will be available to anyone working in the area.

“I’m delighted for other researchers and energy modellers to use our models, data and visualizations, and for other organizations to benefit from them,” she says. “The more of this work in decarbonization that we can do, the better for everyone, and the better for the planet.”

Read the Government of Canada news release here.

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Keywords: sustainability, clean energy, climate, computers, research, technology

People: Madeleine McPherson


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