Ice Storage: A Cost-Efficient Way To Cool Commercial Buildings While Optimizing the Power Grid

When we look at a building, we see thermal mass and air conditioning load, and – above all – an opportunity to vastly increase the efficiency of our national power grid. 

Image: www.neilorme.com

We see the world of electricity production and consumption from an integrated, systems-thinking approach, and the potential for huge improvements.  Which is a blessing and a curse, because alongside the enormous potential, we also observes an impressively high level of old-school, status quo thinking that keeps us mired in uneconomical ways of running our power grid and cooling our buildings.

Here’s the problem, we don’t use our AC at all in the winter, and very little in the spring or fall. We use it when we need it. It’s that air conditioning load that contributes the lion’s share of additional peak demand on those hottest of summer days, straining our grid and driving us perilously close to the edge on the worst days.  And on those hottest days, it represents far more than 5% of consumption. In a place like California, residential and commercial air conditioning can represent over 30% of summertime electric loads.

It’s the demand on the margin. And it’s that cooling load that causes our country to have to invest in an oversized infrastructure that we don’t even need or use most of the time. It would be as if McDonalds had to design their kitchen and size their grills for the few days a year that a school bus full of kids drives up, while the rest of the time, that extra grilling capacity would lie idle.

Image: CALMAC

One solution to that problem is to install ICE STORAGE.   Ice is created during the nighttime when the power grid is underutilized. When integrated into new construction, Ice Storage also allows one to design a building with a lot less equipment required for air conditioning.  Most building engineers overdesign the HVAC system in a building to meet peak load for air conditioning demand – which may occur perhaps 50 to 100 hours in a given year.

If Ice Storage is installed, then we can design for the average load, so we can downsize the equipment, run it at night, and use the ice storage during the daytime to help meet the entire cooling load of the building.  It’s a different way to design a building which is unknown to the occupants but reduces operating costs.

On a capital cost basis, in new construction, it really doesn’t have to cost anymore, or if it does, the payback is in a year or two. 

for more information on ice storage systems, please contact our office.

see the full article at:   http://www.forbes.com/sites/peterdetwiler/