Parking with a purpose: clean cars and solar power shape new structure

To make the Energy Oasis a reality, Panasonic Eco Solutions Canada was chosen to design and construct the integrated system of parking canopy structures

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August 03, 2015 |
Parking with a purpose: clean cars and solar power shape new structure

Titled the Smart Microgrid Program, the ongoing initiative involves a network of fast and standard charging stations that allow electric cars to be charged in minutes.

Setting the Scene for Innovative Eco Solutions

Located on the scenic west coast of Canada, the British Columbia Institute of Technology (BCIT) is a public polytechnic institution of higher education. Its five campuses sprawl across the Metro Vancouver region with the main campus located in Burnaby, British Columbia.

A forward thinking institution that believes in a hands-on approach to learning, BCIT wanted to develop a renewable energy system that would have a real impact on clean transportation and incorporate innovative solar components.

The Roots of Success

It all began in early 2007, when BC Hydro, a Canadian electric utility, and SMART, a BCIT Applied Research Group, embarked on a joint research initiative to design and develop Canada's first Smart Power Microgrid at BCIT's Burnaby campus. The goal was to build a smarter, more secure power grid that would balance power generation to demand, reduce the potential for blackouts, and integrate current energy sources.

Titled the Smart Microgrid Program, the ongoing initiative includes BCIT’s Energy OASIS (Open Access to Sustainable Intermittent Sources) project involving a network of fast and standard charging stations that allow electric cars to be charged in minutes – facilitating the transition to green transportation in Canada.

Making it Happen

To make the Energy Oasis a reality, Panasonic Eco Solutions Canada was chosen to design and construct the integrated system of parking canopy structures, canopy mounted solar panels, and energy storage system.

Panasonic got to work engineering, procuring, and constructing the two parking canopies with 250 kW of solar PV – enough to power the EV charging stations. The team also designed and installed a 500 kWh energy storage and energy management system utilizing Panasonic lithium-ion batteries and a bidirectional inverter. The Panasonic Battery Energy Storage System (BESS) communicates with a Distributed Energy Management System, which learns when to buy, sell or store energy using intelligent algorithms and sends the requests to store or discharge the BESS at key times, such as peak usage or in low utility rate hours.

Collaborating with BCIT and other industry partners, Panasonic integrated the solar and battery systems into BCIT’s microgrid for a comprehensive, innovative structure.

Lasting Achievement 

Recognized with a Canadian Solar Industries Association (CanSIA) Game Changer Award, the project was the first of its kind in Canada to successfully demonstrate the integration of solar power, energy storage, and electric vehicle charging stations in a grid-tied or ‘islanded’ configuration. With the team’s commissioning and post implementation support services, BCIT can count on reliable startup and continuous operation for years to come.

To learn more about Panasonic Eco Solutions and our work in North America, please visit www.panasonic.com/energysolutions

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