Emera invests $6.2m in university smart grid research
February 2, 2017
Canadian energy company Emera is investing $6.2m in the University of New Brunswick (UNB) to establish a power research centre for smart grid technologies.
The contribution will support an Emera chair in smart grid technologies at the university, as well as provide direct funding for smart grid research. The smart grid centre will facilitate industry partnerships and applied research.
“Smart grid is the future of electrical power distribution,” said the university’s vice chancellor Eddy Campbell. “This is a compelling example of a strong academic-industry partnership that will fuel innovation and growth in the economy. We are grateful for Emera’s leadership and contribution to advancing research in this area.”
Smart grid refers to modern electricity systems that have high levels of renewable generation and reliability, and low levels of carbon emission. Smart grids will empower consumers to manage energy use, including the ability to supply energy to the electric power system. Smart grid also enables the adoption of new technologies such as electric vehicles.
The Emera chair aims to attract world-class expertise and engage in teaching and research that advances smart grid technologies. The chair will also build partnerships and provide leadership in research activity that should be both innovative and timely.
In its utilities throughout Atlantic Canada, the USA and the Caribbean, Emera has made significant progress in reducing the use of fossil fuels, increasing renewable resources and piloting smarter technologies for customers.
“Emera is focused on meeting customers’ demand for cleaner forms of electrical generation and more efficient ways of delivering energy to market,” said Chris Huskilson, president and CEO of Emera. “Smart grid development is critical to this. We’re pleased to be partnering with UNB and NB Power on a project that will make such a difference in our energy future.”
The university has a unique combination of strengths in research, teaching and entrepreneurship that facilitates growth in this important sector of Canada’s economy. Under the direction of Liuchen Chang and Chris Diduch, the university’s sustainable power research group helps utilities in the transformation of conventional electric power systems into low-carbon smart grids.
The university is a founding partner of the Smart Grid Innovation Network, and the new research centre for smart grid technologies should create new synergies and the opportunity to forge new research partnerships.
Diduch, dean of engineering at the university, sees the centre as an indication of the strength of existing UNB research in the field.
“UNB has worked diligently to create world-class research in smart grid technology,” he said. “It is very gratifying when an industry leader such as Emera recognises the progress we have made and the potential of what we can accomplish with a further investment in research capacity.”
The UNB is Canada’s oldest English-language university. Founded in 1785, the multi-campus institution has a rich history and a dynamic focus on innovation, experiential learning and entrepreneurship. It has more than 10,500 students from nearly 100 countries while several thousand more take its courses online and at partner institutions around the world.
Emera is headquartered in Halifax, Nova Scotia, with approximately $28bn in assets and 2015 pro-forma revenues of $6.3bn.