The University of Guelph is constructing an innovative thermal energy storage system to help the university stay cool during the summer months. The main component of the $15 million system is a giant water tank that stores thermal energy, acting as a kind of battery. Part of the University of Guelph’s Green Gryphon Initiative, the project is supported by one of many conservation incentives funded by the Ontario government.
The system, which will be in operation in October, chills water at night during low electricity price schedules. This cold water is then circulated through the university’s cooling system and eventually returned to the tank, which can hold 22 million litres of water. The cost-efficient cooling system is expected to pay for itself within 5 years.
Dan MacLachlan, the University of Guelph’s director of design, engineering and construction said that the financial support from the government comes from a large-scale incentive program that encourages large electricity loads to shift to off-peak usage times. Similar to other peak-shifting programs like Demand Response, the idea is to reduce consumption in order to avoid straining the power grid at peak demand. This helps reduce the need to fire dirty fossil fuel generators or build new ones entirely. Congrats, Gryphons on the new initiative!