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UVic project looks to enhance Canada's decarbonization modelling

Multimillion dollar boost equips project with more tools for studying net-zero pathways
Madeleine McPherson, a UVic civil engineer, is leading a project that will look to better model how policies can impact Canada's decarbonization efforts. (Courtesy of UVic photo services)

A University of Victoria modelling project will aim to better evaluate Canada's sustainable energy transition, along with the policies that could help the country decarbonize.

UVic launched its Open Insights project on Thursday (June 6). The initiative expects to create a number of tools that will analyze the multiple pathways to Canada meeting its 2050 target of net-zero carbon emissions. 

The university said those tools will address the complexity of decarbonization in Canada, which will allow decision makers and other groups to evaluate the impacts of certain policies. 

Thanks to a $2.5 million infusion from the Clean Prosperity Foundation, the project will add six new models to a platform that's been in development since 2019. 

"We need to use multiple models to tell the decarbonization story; we can’t rely on sector-specific tools alone, which only tell a fraction of the story," Madeleine McPherson, a UVic civil engineer who's leading Open Insights, said in a news release.

The platform that was in development utilized a broad suite of models but lacked key economic parameters, McPherson said. The funds integrating six enhanced models into the platform will produce tools that will "better reflect the overlapping and interacting outcomes of policy changes," the university said. 

The $2.5 million will go toward hiring various researchers and software developers, and will help expand the reach of Open Insight's research. It will also help improve data inputs and visualization tools. McPherson said reports don't always fully engage stakeholders and better visualization tools are important for effectively communicating modelling results. 

"With the visualizations, we can have an inclusive dialogue about the results in real time,” the engineer said.

The project providing open-source data and energy models specific to Canada will help enable speedier evaluations of proposed policy packages, UVic said in its release.

It will also study the long-term implications of new technology and help answer questions, such as how a province can reach a net-zero electricity grid in the most cost-effective way, the school added. 

“Modelling at the national and regional levels should be transparent, constantly improving and open for all to use,”  McPherson said, noting that Clean Prosperity Foundation shares that perspective. 

UVic added that Open Insights is a collaborative effort that includes agencies from its institution, Simon Fraser University and other groups.




Jake Romphf

About the Author: Jake Romphf

In early 2021, I made the move from the Great Lakes to Greater Victoria with the aim of experiencing more of the country I report on.
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