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UPEI research team to map Prince Edward Island’s energy future

“We’ve got our eyes on the prize. We’re looking towards a carbon-free energy system.”
| Research

A pair of researchers at UPEI’s School of Sustainable Design Engineering have been awarded funding from Mitacs to develop a detailed technical framework for PEI’s electrical system to increase renewable energy integration and decrease our reliance on fossil fuels. With $150,000 from Mitacs Accelerate and the PEI Energy Corporation, Dr. Matthew Hall and Dr. Andrew Swingler will hire three graduate students and begin building a “roadmap” towards making PEI’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 Dr. Hall, an assistant professor at UPEI’s School of Sustainable Design Engineering (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 Dr. 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 Dr. 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 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 PEI Energy Corporation. “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-modelling 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 analyse 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 per cent  renewable electricity supply for the Island.

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

Mitacs is a national, not-for-profit 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.

The University of Prince Edward Island prides itself on people, excellence, and impact and is committed to assisting students reach their full potential in both the classroom and community. With roots stemming from two founding institutions—Prince of Wales College and Saint Dunstan’s University—UPEI has a reputation for academic excellence, research innovation, and creating positive impacts locally, nationally, and internationally. UPEI is the only degree granting institution in the province and is proud to be a key contributor to the growth and prosperity of Prince Edward Island.


Dave Atkinson
Research Communications Officer
Marketing and Communication
(902) 620-5117

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