The Transition Accelerator has announced the recipients of its second Transition Pathways research grant. Launched in April 2021 to develop transformational pathways to reach net-zero greenhouse gas emissions, this funding program offers up to $20,000 to up to three projects that define credible, compelling, and capable transition pathways across Canada.
The Transition Accelerator is a pan-Canadian organization dedicated to creating positive, transformational system changes while moving Canada down viable pathways to reach net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. To achieve this, the Accelerator harnesses existing economic, social, and technological disruptions already affecting multiple industry sectors and regions. Using momentum underway in these sectors, it acts as a catalyst and convenes innovators, progressive industry, researchers, and key stakeholders into collaborative teams that advance Canada down credible, compelling, and capable pathways to a stronger future. The Accelerator’s four-step “transition pathways” methodology provides the intellectual foundation for the work.
The Transition Accelerator’s four-step approach is to understand, codevelop, analyze and advance credible and compelling transition pathways that are capable of achieving societal and economic objectives including driving the country towards net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.
In reviewing this year’s applications, the judging team was humbled by the breadth of research being done to bring the vision of a prosperous net zero future into reality. The Transition Accelerator selected the following grant recipients.
Transdisciplinary Multi-Stakeholder Approach to Steering Net Zero Transitions: Sociotechnical System Configurations for Modelling and Simulating Atlantic Canada’s Transition Pathways
For this study, Dr. Asah and his team will partner with Net Zero Atlantic to carry out a series of workshops and activities aimed at developing desirable net zero transition pathways in Atlantic Canada. These transdisciplinary, multi-stakeholder sessions will use an iterative, deliberative approach to configuring transition pathways and embedded socio-technical systems, with the aim of informing the planning, decision-making and investment decisions that will lead to an effective, efficient net zero transition.
To ensure that the systems and transition pathway configurations that emerge from these deliberations are authentically co-created by stakeholders, the deliberations will be recorded and transcribed verbatim, and coded using thematic and narrative data coding and analytic techniques. This data will be used to configure socio-technical systems and transition pathways that represent as closely as possible the aggregate realities of participants, and ultimately of Atlantic Canada. These results will also help determine data and other resource needs for empirical simulation modeling of sociotechnical systems and transition scenarios.
About Dr. Asah: Stanley Asah is the Canada Research Chair 1 on Social Dimensions of Cleaner Technologies. A faculty member at Dalhousie University, his research focuses on sociotechnical system analysis, adoption and diffusion of cleaner technologies, cleaner technologies justice, and the social impacts and acceptability of cleaner technologies.
Hamid Afshari, Assistant Professor: Applied Optimization and systems modeling, Sustainable Supply Chain Management, Sustainability, Advanced technologies, Dalhousie University
Ahmed Saif, Associate Professor: Large-scale Optimization and systems modeling, Decision Making under Uncertainty, Disaster Relief Logistics, Sustainable Supply Chains, Hybrid Renewable Energy Systems, Dalhousie University
Michelle Adams, Professor: Technology Science-Policy, Policy sciences, Industrial sustainability, Renewable energy, Industrial ecology, Industrial symbiosis, Resource efficiency, Sustainable development, Public engagement, Dalhousie University
Peter Tyedmers, Professor: Ecosystems, Industrial sustainability, Life cycle assessment, Ecological economics, Carbon footprint, Ecosystem services, Dalhousie University
Transit Bus Route Electrification
Dr. Lina Kattan’s project aims to develop a model for optimising transit routes for Battery-Electric Buses (BEB), incorporating the placement of charging stations and charging durations along the routes. The location and duration of charging is impacted by a range of factors, including more deterministic items like passenger wait times, operating costs, and capital costs, along with less predictable items like passenger behaviour and the battery performance of BEBs, which is strongly affected by severe weather.
The models developed in this project will look at one- and two-way high-demand bus routes, using an environment-centric approach to optimizing charging station locations, and a stochastic model to address charging times. It will aim to minimize operating costs, reduce passenger in-vehicle delays, and maximize BEBs’ ability to reduce the environmental impact of public transit, as measured in terms of greenhouse gas emissions.
About Dr. Kattan: Dr. Lina Kattan is a Professor of Transportation Engineering at the Department of Civil, Schulich School of Engineering, University of Calgary. She holds Canada Research Chair (CRC) Tier I in Integrative Transportation Systems through Automation and Connectivity, and the Urban Alliance Chair in Transportation Systems Optimisation. Dr. Kattan is also the Director of the NSERC CREATE program in Integrated Infrastructure for Sustainable Cities (IISC), which focuses on finding systematic solutions to understand the multifaceted needs of tomorrow’s cities.
Analyzing the potential of hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicles as distributed energy storage or generators to decarbonize transportation and power sectors
Decarbonizing the transportation sector and scaling up energy storage will be critical for the transition to a net-zero economy. This project will study the potential of connecting fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs) to the electrical grid as distributed energy storage and/or electricity generators to supply electricity to the grid when needed. This FCEVs-to-grid pathway can maximize the benefits of the hydrogen infrastructure expansion in Canada to decarbonize both the transportation and power sectors, while providing incentives to FCEV owners. The study will use heavy-duty trucks and trains, the potential early adopters of FCEVs, as two examples to identify potential operational and technical constraints and evaluate the overall economic and environmental benefits.
About Dr. Wu: Dr. XiaoYu Wu is an assistant professor in the Department of Mechanical and Mechatronics Engineering at the University of Waterloo. His research group, Greener Production Group works on both technology development and techno-economic analysis of different technologies for energy conversion and chemical production, such as hydrogen/ammonia conversion and energy storage.
Featured images credit: The Transition Accelerator.