Wednesday, March 30, 2011

How Much Energy does the Yukon Need?

Yukon Energy recently hosted its energy planning charrette, which has generated quite a bit of discussion in the community about planning for our energy future.  As part of the charrette, an exercise was done where participants had to develop an energy options portfolio to meet future electrical demands - 500 GWh/yr, 600 GWh/yr or even 1000 GWh/yr.  For perspective, currently the Yukon generates approximately 400 GWh/yr of electrical energy.

So, inspired partially by this event, and also the energy accounting in by David MacKay's very engaging book "Sustainable Energy - without the hot air", I thought I'd do an updated analysis of how much ENERGY (not just electricity) that the Yukon actually needs.  A total energy picture is very important if we, as a community, have a sustainable energy vision for our future and want to reduce or even eliminate our dependence on fossil fuels.

Full Disclosure:  As part of my day job, I was retained by Yukon Energy to particpate in the charrette as one of the energy resource technical experts.  However, I am also a long-time Yukoner and so I write this based on my personal interest in sustainability and this post does not reflect the views of my employer or Yukon Energy Corp. 

What this analysis shows is where does our total energy usage in the Yukon come from (the primary energy sources) and what do we use it for (Energy Use).  The electricity portion of energy use also includes electrical space heating, but I don't know what portion of electrical energy usage is for space heating - so it is all mixed in there.  Oh, and "biomass" is the cool word for "firewood".

Methodology:  I've based this on my earlier "Yukon's Energy Budget" analysis, but I've updated this with the most current data from 2009 Yukon Bureau of Stats annual report.  As for end usage, I've adjusted downward the actual delivered energy for space heating by 78% average efficiency for fossil fuels, and 65% for biomass. Note that pellets are missing from this inventory because we have no statistics of pellet consumption / utilization in the Yukon.  I don't think it is a significant portion of our total energy usage, but maybe that is something someone can start to track.

  • 75% of our energy in the Yukon comes from fossil fuels.  So, we are a LONG way from having a sustainable energy system in the Yukon.
  • If we are to start thinking about a fully sustainable energy future, then perhaps we need to start thinking about the total energy usage picture - something on the order of 1,400 GWh/yr - not just the 400 GWh/yr of electricity we currently use.  
  •  Transportation is a huge portion of our fossil fuel usage.  However, we don't know anything about how much of this energy is used for long-haul transport versus local (e.g. <100km) driving around.  Again, this is something we should figure out because it is such a big piece of our total energy usage in the Yukon. 
Maybe in a future post I'll share my ideas of how we could move to a sustainable energy future, and what are the implications for our investments as a community.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Sustainable Design Elements Signs from Open House - 40 Nijmegan Rd.

Thanks to everyone who came out to our open house at 40 Nijmegan Rd. on Friday.  And an even bigger thank you to the hard working team who made it possible.

A number of folks asked if they could have a copy of the sustainable design information signs around the building, so here there are for your perusal:

Thursday, March 17, 2011

40 Nijmegan Rd. Open House - Friday March 25th

Our open house for the SuperGreen duplex on 40 Nijmegan Road will be Friday, March 25th, noon to 7pm. Come see one of the most energy efficient homes in the Yukon - we'd love to see you there!

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Comparing Heating Costs of A SuperGreen Home

We've recently completed construction of our SuperGreen duplex in Takhini North. One side is being lived in already by a pair of proud new owners of what maybe the most energy efficient home in the Yukon. We're just getting the energy modelling and LEED certification wrapped up now, so the final rating is not yet in, but I thought it would be interesting to compare energy use in this home versus a "conventional" home in Whitehorse.

Below is a graph of estimated heating costs. I've based this on typical floor size and heat load data from Yukon Housing's analysis of energy usage in Yukon homes. Energy usage for our SuperGreen duplex is based on the HOT2000 model results (which in my experience are pretty accurate estimates.) I've use a heating oil cost of $1.15/L (average cost as of February 1st, 2011) and an electrical cost of $0.11/kWh.

What is interesting is even compared to the City's new energy bylaw compliant building, our SuperGreen duplex is still dimes-to-dollars on heating cost compared to this SuperGreen home. And I shutter to think about paying the heating bills on one of the vintage Takhini duplexes...

Total Home Energy Use
It is interesting now to look at the proportion of energy use for Space Heating versus other energy use in the building. Here is the energy profile of a "conventional" home in Whitehorse, versus our SuperGreen duplex.

Total energy usage is the SuperGreen
duplex is more than half that of a conventional home. In the SuperGreen home we see that Water Heating and is actually a greater energy use than Space Heating! With respect to Lights & Appliances, my experience is that default values HOT2000 (the energy modelling software) over estimates the usage in this category. I expect total usage in the SuperGreen duplex to be lower given the EnergyStar appliances installed, drain water heat recovery and the energy efficient lighting.

What this analysis tells me is that we've made great progress on the heat-loss side of the building. I think the next steps in energy efficient homes is now to look at water heating; and we need even better heat recovery on our ventilation systems....heat-pump HRVs anybody?

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