Test-driving Net Zero Atlantic’s Atlantic Canada Energy System Model

Emma Fudge

Prepping Net Zero Atlantic’s Atlantic Canada energy system model for widespread use when it launches later this year is Emma Fudge’s focus as a tester with the project. 

A recent graduate of Dalhousie University’s Mechanical Engineering program, Emma became involved in the modelling project through a Renewable Energy Resources class she took with Dr. Lukas Swan during her final semester. In addition to her work testing the energy system model, Emma is currently working for Irving Shipbuilding in Halifax as a Junior Field Service Engineer. 

We asked her to tell us more about how she and another tester are working together to try out different scenarios using Net Zero Atlantic’s model and why it matters. 

What work are you doing with Net Zero Atlantic’s energy system model?
Our role in this project is to perform testing for the energy system model. The goal of this testing is to ensure that the model is user friendly for the targeted end users, and to identify any errors or gaps in the model. We determine these areas for improvement by running designated sets of tests on each iteration of the model and analyzing the changes in outputs. The results are compared against the base case of the model and expectations for each scenario. Expectations are developed based on understanding of the changes made to the input data, and the relationship of those parameters to the rest of the system. We are essentially trying to "break" the model, to ensure that it is prepared to run any scenarios that the end users may desire to evaluate. 

What have you learned from working with this project?
My involvement in this project has exposed me to the types of information that are required for policy and planning decisions surrounding energy systems and transitions to low emission technologies. I have learned more about energy models and the various approaches for reaching net-zero emissions. I have also learned more about the current energy state of Atlantic Canada and how different sectors interact to place demand on the electricity sector. 

Do you have any thoughts you’d like to share about the energy system model?
I believe that the type of work Net Zero Atlantic is doing with this project will only increase in importance as we strive towards net-zero emissions goals. The model will help to guide decision making and ensure that we are heading in the right direction in terms of deploying new and existing technologies to reduce emissions. I have found it very interesting to see how the model adapts to employ different technologies based on the constraints used in each scenario, such as emissions limits, or costs of certain technologies. This work has allowed me to further understand how complex energy systems are, and how far we need to go to achieve our climate goals. 

Want to learn more about Net Zero Atlantic’s open-source energy system model for Atlantic Canada? Go to https://oera.ca/modelling or follow us at https://twitter.com/OERA_NS or https://www.linkedin.com/company/offshore-energy-research-association-of-nova-scotia/