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Spring/Summer 2021


Engineering students simulate plan for solar energy

ALUMNI NEWS MAGAZINE | Spring/Summer 2021

Four electrical engineering students studied the viability of implementing more solar energy in Canada using a Smart Grid Digital Twin. This project is a major step towards creating more large-scale renewable energy options in New Brunswick and reducing the country’s carbon footprint.

Josh Power, Liam Hogan, Braden Haley and Alex Everett, worked with mentors to collect data and design a digital twin, which is a software representation of an electrical infrastructure/distribution system where a solar farm could potentially be built. By creating a digital replica of the solar farm, the team was able to scan potential risks and mitigate them before the infrastructure is physically built.

“Digital twins are one of the most popular forms of digital analysis right now,” says Hogan. “This software gives us a window into the future of what potential risks might come up and allow us to avoid them without spending unnecessary money or time building the structure.”

Smart Grid is part of a research initiative developing new tools and technology to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The grid detects changes in local power usage to improve efficiency, reliability, quality and safety.

Power says that the team is proud of its work. “We designed our plan in a way that it can easily be reproduced and hopefully used in other places.”

“At the beginning of the year, I didn’t know who was going to be in my group or what project I was going to have,” says Haley. “When Liam came to me with a project that was so impactful and of this magnitude, I was excited to be part of it”.

“The overall scope and raw impact of this project is what drew me to it the most,” says Everett. “At times it was not easy, but the highs are even higher when you finally get it working and can move forward.”

Power, Hogan, Haley and Everett won the IEEE NB Chapter prize for technical excellence for their digital twin at the 2021 UNB Design Symposium held in April. 

This story was originally published on the UNB Newsroom.