New U of R microgrid will help increase local energy generation, such as thermal, hydro, and solar.

Growing the clean energy technology sector in Saskatchewan takes research, experimentation, collaboration, and…money!

Thanks to $976,000 in funding from Prairies Economic Development Canada (PrairiesCan), University of Regina researchers will have the resources needed to develop the space and infrastructure needed to establish a microgrid - a self-sustaining electrical grid that has electricity generation, consumption, storage, and control all in one place.

“This microgrid will be a living lab for research and teaching and will open a range of possibilities for students and researchers interested in the renewable energy sector,” says University of Regina electronic systems engineering associate professor Dr. Irfan Al-Anbagi. “From the opportunity to explore digital applications for commercialization to providing industrial partners the facilities they need to test models and further their research and development goals, this lab will be the first of its kind in Saskatchewan.”

He is leading this project alongside engineering instructor Douglas Wagner and lab instructor Lisa Vindevoghel.

Al-Anbagi says microgrids have the potential to improve the availability of power to isolated communities, and also be flexible in the utilities they operate, minimizing costs and environmental impacts.  “By using clean energy and storage systems the reliability and resilience also increases. Plus, the grid will allow us to increase our local energy generation and storage facilities, such as thermal, hydro, and solar.”

The honourable Daniel Vandal is the Minister for PrairiesCan and says the government is proud to support the University of Regina as it gathers and shares knowledge through this micro-grid living lab project.

“We know that energy innovation and transition requires support for research, to test and support new ideas that will grow the clean energy sector here in Saskatchewan. Projects like these are vital to Canada’s goal of net-zero emissions by 2050,” says Vandal.

Al-Anbagi explains that the University of Regina is well positioned to play an important role in leading the innovation and training necessary for achieving net-zero emissions in regions where coal-powered energy is prevalent and energy transitions to low carbon are particularly challenging.

“We have the expertise and the capacity to take on this project and run with it,” says Al-Anbagi. “Ultimately, this project will further our long-standing relationships with industrial partners to create new opportunities for helping prairie industrial partners adopt renewable energy and become less dependent on fossil fuels.”

He’s also excited about the opportunities the microgrid will provide the University’s graduate students.

“A research-based microgrid will mean that our graduate students will be well positioned to grow the clean energy technology sector in Saskatchewan, as they work to commercialize their research discoveries,” says Al-Anbagi.

University of Regina electronic systems engineering associate professor Dr. Irfan Al-Anbagi is leading the microgrid project. (Photo by U of R Photography)
University of Regina electronic systems engineering associate professor Dr. Irfan Al-Anbagi is leading the microgrid project. (Photo by U of R Photography)

Dr. Christopher Yost, interim vice-president (research), says installing a research-based microgrid at the University of Regina will fill a critical capacity gap in the province.

“The microgrid will allow our researchers to lead in renewable energy training and innovation for the Prairie region, ultimately providing leadership, support, and knowledge translation for positive energy transitions to prairie industries and communities,” says Yost.

About the author
Krista Baliko is the University of Regina’s research communications strategist and the editor of Discourse Research Magazine.