What is a microgrid?
A microgrid is a small electrical network capable of producing its own electricity and operating independent of the grid. Microgrids utilize different ways of producing electricity, but what makes the Community Energy Park microgrid unique in Canada and elsewhere, is that it brings together solar electricity and cogeneration along with electrical vehicle charging and smart grid technology.
What is a cogenerator?
A cogenerator produces two things: electricity and heat. Inside are two 360HP engines that run on natural gas. They run almost constantly, producing electricity. These large engines also create heat that would normally escape into the surrounding area, but in a cogenerator that heat is captured and used to warm the water that then transfers the heat to YMCA Aquatic Centre and Memorial Gardens.
What is the smart grid controller?
The smart grid controller is the brains of the microgrid.
What role does the battery play?
The battery, along with the smart grid controller, allows the microgrid to operate at maximum efficiency. It acts as a buffer for the power produced by the solar panels and cogenerator. This way, if the electricity produced isn’t needed by the facilities right away, it can be stored until it is.
How long can the Community Energy Park provide heat and power in emergency mode?
As long as there is natural gas available, the Community Energy Park can supply the facilities with heat and electricity indefinitely.
How does the heat get from the cogenerator to the YMCA and Memorial Gardens?
The heat is used to warm water through a heat exchanger. The warm water is then carried to Memorial Gardens and the YMCA Aquatic Centre by underground pipes, where it goes through another heat exchanger, warming the water used in the radiators, swimming pool and hot water taps. The cool water travels back to the cogenerator to begin the cycle again.
How can I get involved with the Community Energy Park?
The Community Energy Park is more than an efficient source of sustainable power and heat; it is a learning opportunity for our community and the world. Kids and parents can learn by visiting the Community Energy Park or booking a site tour of the microgrid. Teachers can access our educational materials for their classrooms, and industry professionals can contact us to learn about how the technologies used here can benefit projects in their communities. Visit the Get Involved page to learn more.
Does the Community Energy Park still use electricity from the grid?
Yes, there is still a small amount of electricity from the grid used by the Community Energy Park. This ensures the microgrid has backup power for maintenance, and maximum flexibility and efficiency during regular operation.