Regional Renewable Energy Cooperatives

Thursday, 18 December 2014: 4:30 PM
Paul Hazendonk1, M. Bryson Brown1, James M Byrne1, Trevor Harrison1, Richard Mueller1, Kent Peacock2, John Usher1, Rossitsa Yalamova1, Roland Kroebel3, Jaime Larsen3 and Rod McNaughton4, (1)University of Lethbridge, Lethbridge, AB, Canada, (2)Univ of Lethbridge, Lethbridge, AB, Canada, (3)Agriculture & Agri-Food Canada Lethbridge, Lethbridge, AB, Canada, (4)University of Auckland, Management and International Business, Auckland, New Zealand
We are building a multidisciplinary research program linking researchers in agriculture, business, earth science, engineering, humanities and social science. Our goal is to match renewable energy supply and reformed energy demands. The program will be focused on (i) understanding and modifying energy demand, (ii) design and implementation of diverse renewable energy networks. Geomatics technology will be used to map existing energy and waste flows on a neighbourhood, municipal, and regional level. Optimal sites and combinations of sites for solar and wind electrical generation (ridges, rooftops, valley walls) will be identified. Geomatics based site and grid analyses will identify best locations for energy production based on efficient production and connectivity to regional grids and transportation. Design of networks for utilization of waste streams of heat, water, animal and human waste for energy production will be investigated. Agriculture, cities and industry produce many waste streams that are not well utilized. Therefore, establishing a renewable energy resource mapping and planning program for electrical generation, waste heat and energy recovery, biomass collection, and biochar, biodiesel and syngas production is critical to regional energy optimization.

Electrical storage and demand management are two priorities that will be investigated. Regional scale cooperatives may use electric vehicle batteries and innovations such as pump storage and concentrated solar molten salt heat storage for steam turbine electrical generation. Energy demand management is poorly explored in Canada and elsewhere – our homes and businesses operate on an unrestricted demand. Simple monitoring and energy demand-ranking software can easily reduce peaks demands and move lower ranked uses to non-peak periods, thereby reducing the grid size needed to meet peak demands. Peak demand strains the current energy grid capacity and often requires demand balancing projects and infrastructure that is highly inefficient due to overall low utilization.