Energy Manager

University of Waterloo opens Energy Research Centre

The University of Waterloo has opened its new Energy Research Centre, which will support research and technology development in energy conversion.


At the opening ceremony on October 4, the university appointed University of Waterloo professor Claudio Cañizares as the inaugural Hydro One Chair in Power Engineering. The Hydro One Chair in Power Engineering is funded by a $2.5-million agreement signed last year with Hydro One Networks Inc.


The Energy Research Centre provides a focal point for energy research groups in the faculty of engineering at Waterloo, says the university, including the Centre for Advanced Photovoltaic Devices and Systems (CAPDS), solar thermal research laboratory, energy and pollution modelling, and fuel cell research and development labs.


“The University of Waterloo has made energy a top strategic priority and through the Waterloo Institute for Sustainable Energy (WISE), we address the full spectrum of sustainable energy R&D, education, partnerships and commercialization,” said Jatin Nathwani, Executive Director of WISE. “Energy challenges continue to command attention at the national and international levels. It is a reasonable premise that a healthy energy equation requires balance among the energy sources: those we know and those that we have yet to discover.”


In its 14,000-sq.-ft research facility on the ground floor of the Energy Research Centre, CAPDS conducts key work in photovoltaic energy conversion, which turns sunlight into energy.


The Energy Research Centre also houses laboratories in the department of mechanical and mechatronics engineering: solar thermal research lab, which develops new solar thermal technologies mainly aimed at housing; advanced glazing system lab, which analyzes energy-efficient glazing systems and shading devices; and lab for fuel cell and green energy research and development, which investigates cost-effective and reliable fuel cell technology and clean biodiesel engines. Research is also carried out in pollution dispersion and energy storage through computer modelling.


The rooftop of the Energy Research Centre features test platforms for the solar thermal lab and for wind turbine acoustics, which examines the causes of excessive wind turbine noise.


Funding for the Energy Research Centre came from the federal and provincial governments, industry and the University of Waterloo. The 43,200-gross-sq.-ft Energy Research Centre cost $11.4-million to build. Federal and provincial government funding totals $31.3 million for lab equipment and research support.


“The federal government is committed to supporting cutting-edge research at world-leading educational institutions like the University of Waterloo,” said Peter Braid, MP for Kitchener-Waterloo. “By providing labs for research into green technologies like wind and solar power, this centre will make a major contribution to developing innovative solutions for a sustainable environment.”


“The Energy Research Centre is an impressive example of the type of partnerships that are essential to ensure Canada’s success in the knowledge-based economy, and the Canada Foundation for Innovation is proud to be a partner in this venture,” said Gilles G. Patry, President and CEO of the CFI.


As Hydro One Chair, Cañizares will support research in smart grid power distribution and management, alternative energy and sustainability projects, along with graduate student investigations. The Chair will contribute significantly to work on how to integrate clean energy technologies into the grid as well as address specific issues of the electricity sector through research, development and deployment projects.


The Waterloo Institute for Sustainable Energy (WISE) will oversee the Hydro One Chair agreement. WISE comprises more than 80 faculty members with graduate students and postdoctoral fellows working in multi- disciplinary research teams across engineering, science and environment. Researchers investigate innovative technologies and alternatives to existing energy production and delivery systems, along with energy efficiency and environmental sustainability.


For more information about the University of Waterloo, visit

October 13, 2010  By  John Gilson

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