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Clean energy breakthroughs

Clean energy

An IESVic researcher investigates gas-dispersion patterns to improve the safety of hydrogen fuel cells.

Largely due to the Institute for Integrated Energy Systems (IESVic), UVic is a world leader in the development of sustainable energy technologies with real-world, practical applications.

Energy is a crucial element of society—it is essential for communities to work, play and grow. But our reliance on fossil fuels has a limited future. With climate change, sustainability issues and unstable supplies of energy, Canada and the world need a road map to a different energy future.

Back in 1989—well before energy industry executives, governments and the public understood the severity of the climate change challenge—UVic founded the Institute for Integrated Energy Systems (IESVic) to develop and promote feasible energy solutions.

Since then, IESVic has become an internationally recognized leader in the development of sustainable energy technologies with real-world, practical applications. Working closely with private and public sector partners in Canada and around the world, IESVic researchers investigate entire sustainable energy systems—from the harnessing, storage, transmission and conversion of new energy sources to the delivery of services to communities and industries.

IESVic pioneered Canada’s first major university-industry research partnership to study fuel cells and hydrogen systems. Engineers at IESVic used computer models to explore what a large-scale hydrogen economy would look like. And they redesigned fuel cells to be smaller and more efficient. The work resulted in the transfer of 18 patents to industrial partners and spawned a host of new business ventures. It also solidified IESVic’s place at the forefront of energy systems research.

International scope

In May 2011, IESVic hosted the second annual Canada-China Clean Energy Workshop, where 55 leading energy system researchers from across Canada and China got to know each other and explore collaborative research opportunities.

The workshop included discussions about climate change and the need for science-based solutions, but also focused on new horizons in renewable energy, including fuel cells, smart grid technology and green vehicles.

While plans are already under way for next year’s workshop—to be held in Beijing—this year’s event is definitely being seen as a success. “Many new relationships were formed between Chinese and Canadian researchers, and plans for a number of exciting collaborative projects were generated,” explains IESVic Director Peter Wild.

Real-world solutions

Many of the projects that will shape our energy future are already underway. Today, IESVic investigates areas as diverse as fuel cell science, cryofuels, hydrogen technology, energy systems analysis and energy policy development, as well as alternative energy sources such as wind, solar, run-of-river hydro, tidal and wave power.

A big-picture approach

Over two decades, IESVic has forged strong collaborative links with leading industrial partners and public sector decision-makers across Canada and around the world. Research partners include utilities, car manufacturers, transportation planners, renewable energy device developers, First Nations communities, governments, and university researchers in more than 15 countries.

IESVic’s multidisciplinary approach is unique, as energy research is often pursued from a single disciplinary perspective. At the institute, engineers, scientists and social scientists come together to examine the “big picture” in energy systems—from energy extraction through to service provision.

To cover the broad spectrum of energy systems, research at IESVic focuses on five research themes:

  • Hydrogen and fuel cell systems
  • Renewable energy systems
  • Techno-economic modelling
  • Transportation
  • Carbon management

Largely due to IESVic’s research successes, UVic is now ranked the fifth most influential university in the world in the field of energy and fuels. In North America, only Princeton, Cornell and the US National Renewable Energy Lab are rated higher.

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