Who owns a 100 year-old car? Dr. Ordonez speaks to our energy challenges during CRC announcement

Prof. Ordonez speaks to The Minister of National Revenue Kerry-Lynne Findlay during a tour of the Alpha Power Lab, photo: Rich Lam

The Minister of National Revenue Kerry-Lynne Findlay announced UBC’s two new recipients and six renewals at an event on the Vancouver campus to recognize B.C. appointees. The event featured the work of Martin Ordonez who was named a new Chair in Power Converters and Renewable Systems. His work aims to maximize the use of renewable energy from wind, solar, and the ocean by developing the next generation of power conversion and storage solutions to produce low emissions power. Prof. Ordonez asked the audience some surprising questions to demonstrate the opportunities we have for change in our energy system.

Consider these two questions, Who owns a 100 year-old car? and, Who is using a 100-year-old electrical system?

We currently rely on very old power technology and infrastructure that is prepared to work with fossil fuels. There is a huge opportunity to advance the electrical system with renewable power and replace over 80% of energy consumption coming from fossil fuels.

Now we have to ask ourselves how much progress the world has made with solar, wind, and ocean power generation? The answer to this important question is a shocking: “less than 1% of power consumption”.

In our current situation, the job of power researchers is to advance techniques and technologies that will bring a 100-year-old power grid up to speed and introduce as much renewable energy as possible – we have substantial opportunities going forward.

Prof. Ordonez’s research investigates renewable power resources that are intermittent or fluctuating such as wind or solar energy. Prof. Ordonez also investigates what end users need and how these needs fluctuate. He uses this complex combination of information to do research and development on renewable energy systems. Energy generation (done right) must work like a fine-tuned ecosystem that integrates with the environment seamlessly.

The objective is to maximize green energy capture, utilization, and storage (all intermittent) and provide a reliable power supply to end-users. To do this, the research program is developing the next generation of power converters, basically intelligent systems that are efficient and cost-effective.

As well as supporting Dr. Ordonez research the Canada Research Chair position supports the training of highly qualified personnel. This is all about the next generation of green power engineers. ECE is making a significant effort to increase capacity and operate a world-class facility. This creates synergy and benefits a whole range of activities with undergraduate, Master’s, Doctoral student, industry and other institutions. The work of ECE’s Alpha Power Lab has been supported by: Alpha Technologies, Delta-Q Technologies, Corvus Energy (campus as a living lab), Powertech Labs, Schneider Electric, Opal-Real Time, and Mavi Innovations.

CRC Event

Applied Science Dean Marc Parlange, UBC Vice-President, Research and International John Hepburn, Minister of National Revenue Kerry-Lynne Findlay, Professor Susanna Braund, Assistant Professor Martin Ordonez, and Professor and Head of ECE Andre Ivanov. Photo: Rich Lam

Find out more:

UBC gets $8.5M boost for eight Canada Research Chairs