Introducing Dr. Taco Niet, CERi Researcher-in-Residence

July 05, 2022
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We are pleased to introduce Dr. Taco Niet, who is joining CERi from January 2022 to August 2022 as a Researcher-in-Residence.

Taco Niet’s research focusses on energy systems modeling, energy storage technologies, the integration of renewable/variable energy sources, and the interactions of the energy system with other systems such as the water and land systems. Niet is a graduate from the University of Victoria with a Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering. He joins CERi with an interest in the big-picture implications of his work on energy systems modeling. Specifically, how to address the technical side of overhauling energy systems to be sustainable while doing so equitably.

How do we make sure that as we transition our energy sources from fossil-based to renewables and other low-carbon sources – how do we do that transition in a way that doesn’t leave people who are being left behind further behind or exacerbates poverty?”  said Niet.

"Globally, we are roughly at 20 per cent electricity and 80 per cent non-electricity sources of energy for the end-use. And then the 80 per cent is nominally all fossil power…the challenge in B.C is we have to take what’s currently 20 per cent and expand that to 100 per cent. In other jurisdictions that 20 per cent electrical is from coal and other types of fossils so they have an even bigger challenge."

For BC the question is centred on transitioning to sustainable energy while also being mindful to do in a way that is inclusive. “So the challenge is how do we find the resources that we need to power everything we want [and] how do we build an electrical system that can actually do that. And then on top of that, we want to make sure we are moving in a just, equitable direction?”

Niet’s current project with CERi is looking at equity indicators and how to work them into the energy systems modelling. An equity indicator represents how equitable a given energy system choice is. An example of an equity indicator could be as broad as how many people receive electricity in their household, explained Niet. 

Right now, we’re just trying to map those different pieces. Here’s what we can do with modeling, here’s what we can’t do with modeling and we’re going to have to address in other ways, and here are some of those in-betweens which might be really interesting as a community engagement activity.

Ultimately, Niet’s research with CERi is aimed at creating a better world for future generations. “I want to leave a better world when I am done with whatever I am doing, and one of the ways I see I can have an impact, because of my knowledge of modeling, is to start looking at how do we make better decisions with both our policies with different governments and also industry policies? How do we make better decisions that take into account these different challenges so that when my daughter grows up [to my age] – hopefully there’s a better world out there.”

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