Sunnybrook helps balance Ontario’s electricity grid

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Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre is participating in an innovative new smart grid program and helping Ontario’s electricity grid to keep to the lights on.

Sunnybrook has teamed up with ENBALA Power Networks to provide real-time regulation service, known as Grid Balance®, to the Ontario electricity grid. Traditional demand response programs require an electricity customer to curtail their energy use for hours at a time, which is not something that is easily achievable for a hospital. Participation in Grid Balance® requires real-time power draw adjustments for only short periods of time (usually less than 15 minutes). This makes it easy for hospital facilities to participate because shifting when the power is used does not affect the cooling capacity provided or how much total energy is used.

Grid Balance® helps to match Ontario’s total electricity generation with Ontario’s total electricity demand on a second by second basis, keeping it in balance. Since electricity is not traditionally stored, it is very important that the amount of electricity generated in each moment correctly match the demand loads. As we introduce more variability into our province’s power generation by connecting more solar and wind power (which are intermittent sources of power), keeping the grid in balance becomes more difficult and more important.

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ENBALA has connected a network of large electricity consumers to provide Grid Balance® to the Ontario electricity grid.  Through the use of their innovative smart grid technology platform, GOFlex™, ENBALA can intelligently manage the flexibility of electricity loads in response to real-time needs of the electricity grid. The result is a more reliable, sustainable and often cheaper method of regulation service.

Sunnybrook is one of the inaugural large electricity users participating in the program and the first in the health care sector. Sunnybrook has five large air conditioning chillers that are connected to ENBALA’s Ontario Grid Balance Network. There is flexibility in when and how power is used for these machines by adjusting the temperature of the cold water that is produced, all the while keeping hospital spaces within ordinary comfortable temperatures. Through participation in the program Sunnybrook is contributing to the overall reliability of the Ontario power grid and generating a new revenue stream to help sustain the hospital’s services. Sunnybrook expects to receive $15,000 – $30,000 annually for participating. This cost free initiative is one of the outcomes of the Smart Energy Actions Program the hospital launched in early 2013.