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Simon Little

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Researchers from BCIT’s Group for Advanced Information Technology (GAIT) are working on a ‘micro’ project that could have major impacts on the way Canadians use power. The project is Canada’s first Smart Power Microgrid – a network of smart meters, renewable

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power sources, and monitoring software distributed around BCIT that have transformed the school from an ordinary campus into a model power grid.

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Dr. Hassan Farhangi, Director of GAIT, has spearheaded the project since its inception six years ago. Farhangi said that BCIT’s industrial site-like trades programs, office-like classrooms, and home-

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like residences provide an opportunity to simulate a real-world urban power grid in which to test new technologies.

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“It is a scaled down version of the grid: it has generation capacity, it has load, it has communications systems, it has command and control,” Farhangi told The Link.

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The project, still in its first phase, is currently about measuring power use on campus and

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testing the ‘smart’ communication tools that collect this data, said Farhangi.

@MrSimonLittle @kylemckeachie Just shy of 10 buildings are wired with smart meters, which relay information on when and Sounds like we have a new BUT... there's snow on the how much power is being used to a control center to be analyzed, according to Farhangi. contributor on our hands. Looking mountains and riding season has

minutes. Get down there for

forward to power the pitch! begun! Have you cashed in on culinary delicacies and wicked The more visible side to the Microgrid is BCIT’s generating capacity. tea student pass prices? dancing. @bcitsa Festival is Vancouverites’ cup of 10 campus, hours ago Green tech is springing up all over the and between solar, steam, natural gas, and 5 hours ago wind the school is generating about a half a megawatt of power, explained Farhangi. Retweet

Retweet “That’s well shy of the six megawatts BCIT consumes,” said Farhangi, “but significant

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considering the project is all about research and experimentation.” “They may not generate as much, but they give us the opportunity of getting to know these technologies,” Farhangi explained, “and all of the issues that are there, to integrate these sources of energy into a functioning campus.” It is here that the Smart Microgrid could have big effects off campus.

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Utilities like BC Hydro, Farhangi said, are highly concerned with risk. By demonstrating how these smart and renewable technologies perform under real world conditions, he explained, the BCIT program brings them one step closer to reality. Down the road, Farhangi sees the program growing in exciting ways. “We have defined a road map of technology that needs to be developed over time,” he said. As researchers develop the ability to measure power usage in real time, Farhangi added, future phases of the smart grid could communicate that information to end users, empowering them to reduce consumption. That is something second-year student Keat Watson, who lives in residence, said could make a

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“Art washes away from the soul the

October 2013

dust of every day life,” Pablo Picasso

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once said. Residents of the Lower

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Mainland are surrounded by local art in their daily routines: on

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SkyTrain platforms, downtown street

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corners, and on the walls of

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numerous cof...

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real difference.

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“I think that would

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be very effective –

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you don’t think of

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how much you’re using until you see it,” Watson said. Farhangi also noted that the

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project has drawn a lot of investment

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a large amount of private and public funding, not only for our research purposes but for our educational and training purposes as well,” Farhangi explained. “All of these assets are going to be made available to our school and our students.” In the meantime, students will soon be able to interact with the Smart Microgrid in more tangible ways. Farhangi invited students with access to electric vehicles to make use of The Energy Oasis, currently under construction in lot 7, free of charge once completed. “I think it’s awesome,” said Jon Parkin, a first year student who drives a Prius electric car. “I’ll probably charge up every day, take full advantage. Here’s hoping that other places follow in this progressive direction.” The new charging stations should be ready by next spring or summer, said Farhangi, and will be able to power a car in minutes while offering data to drivers on their cars and batteries’ performance. BCIT Campus

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captured from the grid during off-peak periods. Photo by Simon Little.

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to BCIT, which is

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