With over 300 remote off-grid communities in Canada, the design and operation of microgrids is a critical topic with great social and economic implications. This research topic involves renewable energy power generation (to offset diesel-based generation with lower costs), microgrids operation and energy storage, as well as communities/aboriginal people involvement and energy humanities. Wind resource evaluation and modelling for future small wind farms will be performed by comparison to on-grid installations.
After discussions with themes champions of "Grids and Storage", "Biomass", "Communities and Aboriginal" and "Energy Humanities", we decided to create a microgrid project in this Wind Theme to coordinate research resources and efforts from multiple themes and work together on this important topic. There are also many existing conversations with provincial government, other institutions as well as small-scale collaborations with industry on microgrid projects.
Short term objective of this project in the next 3 years is to create a multidisciplinary team at UAlberta to lead microgrid projects with government and industrial support, and address technical issues such as microgrid operation, stability, reliability, as well as study of social and economic aspects. The long-term objective over 7 years is to have the research results implemented in a number of microgrid communities in Northern Alberta and Canada North, with long-term study, training, education involvement of UAlberta researchers in those communities. An important long term plan will be to provide knowledge and understanding of the large grid infrastructure to allow for planning toward bringing off-grid communities into the grid as infrastructure is improved. This requires understanding of how wind resources have been commercialized in Alberta based on comparison of modelled resources and harvested power.
Outcomes of this project include microgrid optimization software for operation cost minimization and reliability improvement, renewable technologies and microgrid operation and maintenance strategies suitable for Canada North. We will complete an in depth study which allows for feasibility and forecasting of wind resources to allow for future develolpment.