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March 23, 2016

CSI Shares Power With Campus Grid

Lakeland College’s Centre for Sustainable Innovation (CSI) is not only generating electrical power for its applied research operations, it’s now able to supply power to the Vermilion campus.

In the last year, the CSI was connected to the Vermilion campus with an electrical distribution line, thanks to funding from the Canadian Foundation for Innovation and efforts by the college’s facilities and services department. With this connection, the CSI can share its surplus power with the rest of the Vermilion campus.

Campus Energy Grid“By connecting to the main campus, the CSI site becomes one with the main college campus increasing the potential to generate more of the college’s electrical needs from renewable sources,” says Rob Baron, renewable energy and conservation program head.

“Every day there are times when some of the generated electricity is returned to the campus. Before the CSI can send electricity to the campus, all electrical demands on the CSI research site must first be met.”

At the CSI site, which borders Range Road 70 and Highway 16, there are approximately 11 kilowatts of solar photovoltaic arrays, a 10 kilowatt co-generation unit in the Bio-Energy building, and a 3.5 kilowatt wind turbine that is currently inoperable. The co-generation unit in the Bio-Energy building also supplies most of the heat for that building during the winter.

“Our systems have the capacity to generate about 20 kilowatts of power. Usually that power is used to meet our Renewable Energy Centre’s net-zero target, but sometimes we have excess,” says Baron.

At some point every day, the CSI exports power to the Vermilion campus to reduce the college’s draw on the Alberta utility grid. In the winter, the generation comes from both the co-generation unit and the solar arrays. The ideal situation for the CSI to generate a surplus of energy for the campus is when it’s both sunny and cold.

“The sunshine will give us the solar energy generation from the solar photovoltaics all year, but when it’s cold, the co-generation heating system for the Bio-Energy building runs and produces both heat and electricity,” says Baron. As for cost-savings, Baron says the best months for the CSI to save and generate electrical energy are March, April and May in the spring, and September, October and November in the fall.

Generating power for the Vermilion campus grid using renewable energy technologies was a vision Mel Mathison, former dean of Environmental Sciences, and Baron shared in 2010. With advances in their applied research as well as funding from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada and the Canadian Foundation for Innovation, this vision has been realized. Baron and his research team are now completing final reports as this research project comes to an end.

“We are summarizing everything we’ve learned and are hoping to publish a series of research briefs on different renewable energy topics on our applied research website. People can look forward to that over the next six months,” he says, adding they are now investigating new opportunities to build on the work already done in renewable energy. “We invite anyone in the industry with ideas or who want to collaborate to contact Lakeland’s applied research office. We are always looking for more connections and projects in support of this rapidly advancing industry.”

Graphic (above): At some point every day, the CSI exports power to the Vermilion campus to reduce the college’s draw on the Alberta utility grid. This power is shared after all of the electrical demands at the CSI resaerch site are met, including the Renewable Energy Centre's net-zero target. This graph depicts the CSI's generation of power in green, consumption in pink and the black line shows the power exported back to the Vermilion campus over a 12-hour period earlier this year.

March 23, 20116

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