Integrated Community Energy and Harvesting Systems (ICE-Harvest) is a cooperative research project that brings together industry and academia. It uses a whole-systems thinking approach to integrate thermal and electrical energy production, storage, redistribution and consumption that also significantly reduces greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. The proposed ICE-Harvest system integrates electricity generation and heat production at the community level. As such, it uniquely gives communities access to heat that is produced as a by-product of natural gas power plants, decreasing the amount of extra natural gas that is normally burned in our homes for heat. This project differs from a traditional District Energy approach because it can harvest excess heat from our community for redistribution when and where it is needed. It does so by employing a novel combination of demand management technologies – heat pumps and absorption chillers – to manage the shifting electrical and thermal energy needs and balancing them with short-term and seasonal thermal storage.
ICE-Harvest is highly appropriate for Ontario and other cold regions that have high heating needs while simultaneously targeting reducing fossil fuel consumption. ICE-Harvest systems will be modular in design and generate electricity at a small-scale (250kWe–2MWe) near intensified, mixed-used areas in order to meet local peak demands while harvesting waste thermal energy produced by natural gas power plants to supply local micro-thermal networks. Given that the demand for heat in Ontario produces approximately 4 times the CO2 emissions of electricity, there is a great opportunity to significantly reduce fossil fuel consumption by using ICE Harvest and potentially reduce our carbon footprint by 5.6 million tonnes of CO2 per year.
The research proposed herein will create unique modeling, analysis and design tools that will help communities to site, design, optimize and control ICE-Harvest systems to achieve their GHG reduction targets and better manage the energy grid at the community level. This project can lead to reduced GHG emissions by providing an economic means to creating a truly distributed energy network.