UBCO microgrids could solve West Kelowna power line problem | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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UBCO microgrids could solve West Kelowna power line problem

UBCO’s Morad Abdelaziz and Yuri Rodrigues have been researching the impact microgrids would have on the distribution and conservation of electrical power.
Image Credit: UBCO
March 01, 2020 - 7:00 AM

UBC Okanagan research could one-day alleviate power line problems for the westside of the Central Okanagan.

In 2015, West Kelowna, Peachland and Westbank residents lost power for more than nine hours following a fire atop one of the poles that support the lone, 138-kilovolt transmission line that runs 80 km from Merritt to a substation near Shannon Lake.

The province had originally announced that a secondary backup power line would be installed in the coming years but in 2019, BC Hydro announced further delays of the project until 2025.

New UBC Okanagan research has shone a light on how using microgrids would prevent power outages like this in the future.

Researchers Morad Abdelaziz and Yuri Rodrigues have been studying the impact microgrids would have on the distribution and conservation of electricity.

“The research describes a power system operation that will consist of multiple microgrids—separate grids operating like individual islands that can disconnect from the main power supply and run independently,” according to a UBCO press release.

“These islanded systems will provide electricity to smaller geographical areas, such as cities and large neighbourhoods. In the case of a failure in the main system, the local grid operation system will keep the lights on.”

Rodrigues said using microgrids would help alleviate problems like in West Kelowna with sources that only have one power line.

He said that the microgrids would act like batteries, and if the microgrid was to get cut off from BC Hydro, it could still operate.

“The whole Okanagan could be a microgrid and (cities) could help each other,” he said. “As long as you have energy in that network you can supply your loads.”

He said continued power supply depends on locally available generating reserves.

This means that conserving energy is vital to keeping the islanded grid operational for as long as possible, according to the UBCO release. "The microgrid can distribute power at a slightly diluted level that won’t negatively impact electronics while allowing power to flow for longer periods without running out."

Rodrigues hopes the research will gain support and the grids will be available for consumers soon, but that depends on policies.

The research, published in the Journal of Electrical Power and Energy Systems, was supported by several agencies in Brazil and the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada.


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