Green use for white snow: Ottawa probes cool potential to save energy
A study is considering how Ottawa's white winter bounty could be used in future summers as a form of green energy, saving the city money.
Ottawa council asked city staff and Hydro Ottawa Wednesday to go ahead with the study, which will examine how to use the "cold energy" stored in tonnes of snow collected from city streets in the winter to cool Ottawa buildings such as hospitals, universities and government complexes during the hot summer months.
The report back to council about the potential application of the idea is due in February of next year.
Last winter, Ottawa was buried in more than 400 centimetres of snow. Clearing it off the roads and trucking it to the city's snow dumps cost $88 million.
According to Frederick Michel, director of the Institute of Environmental Science at Carleton University, snow that is collected during the winter usually melts by early June, and will last until September if it is insulated using a material such as wood chips.
The cold melt-water could be treated and run in pipes through buildings during the hot summer months, cooling them.
Similar systems have already been used in Sweden to cool a hospital complex since 2000 and is soon to be installed in an airport in Japan. Similar technology that pumps cold water from Lake Ontario is already used to cool buildings in downtown Toronto.
Diane Deans, the city councillor who brought the proposal forward, said it could save the city money that would otherwise be spent powering air conditioners.
"I think our taxpayers would be a lot happier knowing that that snow, instead of just piling up and melting and costing them money, was actually being reused," she said.