DRDC sets AMAZE-ing goal to reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions in Arctic facilities

December 17, 2020 - Defence Stories


The CAM-Main North Warning System Site at Cambridge Bay, Nunavut, is being considered for the deployment of the hybrid microgrid system under the AMAZE project.

A team of researchers is aiming to make Arctic facilities more sustainable with the Defence Research and Development Canada (DRDC)-led project, Advanced Microgrids towards Arctic Zero Emissions (AMAZE), which was awarded $1.65 M over three years from the Greening Government Fund in June 2020.  

The Greening Government Fund is part of the Government of Canada’s response to climate change and provides project funding to federal government departments and agencies to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in their operations.

Defence buildings and assets in Canada’s Far North, including the North Warning System (NWS), use significant amounts of fuel for electricity and heating because of their remote locations and extreme cold conditions.

"This project, while targeting reduced fossil fuel use and GHG reductions, is also about maintaining or improving DND operations," says Dr. Gisele Amow, the lead Defence Scientist. "Every litre of fuel that is not used, is one litre of fuel that does not produce GHGs or have to be flown resulting in significant cost savings and yearly flight rates."

Key collaborators on the AMAZE project include DND’s Assistant Deputy Minister Infrastructure and Environment, the Natural Resources Canada (NRCan) CanmetENERGY Varennes laboratory and the National Research Council (NRC) Canada.

AMAZE builds on previous DRDC-led arctic work with NRCan CanmetENERGY at CFS Alert, where roughly 1.8 million L of fuel is consumed annually at its main power plant. Since fuel is delivered by heavy lift aircraft, it takes seven litres of fuel to deliver one litre of fuel to the site. The study identified energy savings, such as switching to LED lighting and building upgrades, that could save up to 37 per cent annual fuel use.

The AMAZE team aims to reduce GHGs at NWS sites by developing hybrid microgrid systems that use multiple energy resources with advanced controls, adapted for the north. Advanced microgrid control will provide intelligent load control and management of energy resources, whether the hybrid system is standalone or connected to a grid. This project may include solar photovoltaics, more efficient fuel-based technologies such as variable speed generators, energy storage and thermal energy management strategies. Variable speed generators improve efficiency because they change frequency to match power demand. Thermal energy management involves recovering waste heat from power generators to warm buildings or heat hot water. 

CanmetENERGY will develop a simulation software tool to identify the best combination of technologies to use in Arctic locations where diesel generators are commonly used. As well, a microgrid test facility, developed by the NRC, will enable testing of individual technologies with advanced microgrid controls. The outcomes of AMAZE will also benefit other government facilities and remote civilian communities in the Far North in reducing GHGs.

Development and testing of the microgrid system will continue in 2021 with the goal to deploy at a North Warning System site in 2022.  

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