The Ice Bear storage technology is the Zoo's latest green technology and can be seen just outside the Caribou Café. The unit stores energy at night, when demand on the grid is low. It then uses this energy during the day in the building's air conditioning system.
How does it work?
The peak demand for energy usage occurs during the day, when everybody is awake, using lots of energy for lights and computers etc. Imagine the peak in electricity demand when everybody is watching a popular sporting event with a pizza in the oven!
In Toronto on hot summer days, the majority of electricity, up to 50 per cent, of the daytime peak demand, is used for air conditioning.
If our peak demand for energy keeps rising, we will have to build more power stations to keep up.
The Ice Bear unit uses off-peak electricity, in the middle of the night, to make a big block of ice. The ice then slowly melts through-out the next day and is used to cool the air!
If this type of technology is used in cooling systems around the city, our daytime peak demand will be lower, and the need to build more power stations, to cope with peak demand, will be reduced.
How does this bear help save polar bears?
More power stations mean more greenhouse gases being emitted into the atmosphere. Greenhouse gases increase the global warming effect, this results in less sea ice for polar bears. By reducing peak demand this type of technology can reduce green house gas emissions.
What can you do at home?
The same principles apply to the electricity you use in your home; running your washing machine, tumble dryer and dishwasher at night will reduce on peak demand, saving you money and helping in the fight to save arctic biodiversity!