UBC Undergraduate Research

Energizing the Public : Designing and Installing a Renewable Energy Demonstration in Riley Park Cashore, Theresa; Poblacion, Maegan; Sharma, Gopal


Green technology has developed rapidly in the past decade in an effort to produce clean energy through renewables. A global initiative to slow the impacts of climate change is to reduce the use of fossil fuels and to promote sustainable energy production. This initiative is seen to be effective in certain countries, where installed renewable energy sources generate electricity at a levelized cost that is less than, or equal to, the price of buying power from the grid. The Society for Promoting Environmental Conservation (SPEC) aims to promote practical solutions for urban sustainability to the local community. In order to meet SPEC’s Energy and Transportation committee’s objectives outlined through their zero-fossil fuel initiative, the Renewable Energy Demonstration (RED) was installed in Riley Park, Vancouver, British Columbia, which is a comparative and interactive demonstration involving four energy modules; solar, wind, mechanical, and hydro pumped storage. This project aims to raise awareness on viable renewable sources that can serve as alternatives to fossil fuels, through outlining the feasibility in installing each source into one’s own home, as well as their benefits in both energy return and cost. In designing the demonstration, two main objectives were established, which were: 1. To create a renewable energy demonstration that is effective in engaging the community in exploring various renewable energy sources, and 2. Installing such a demonstration in a practical and cost-effective means given our budget constraints. To meet these objectives, our project was organized into three phases. The first was the research phase. Preliminary research was conducted on energy production in Canada from renewable sources, as well as on renewable energy demonstrations installed worldwide and discussions on the subsequent outreach impact from each project. From this baseline research, a series of mini proposals were created. These seven mini proposals briefly outlined the benefits of each potential demonstration; which either was an individual renewable source, or a combination of more than one. In outlining the benefits and challenges of each proposed idea, a demonstration was finalized, which would involve integrating four energy modules where energy generated by each source could be compared in real time. The second phase identified the funds and materials necessary for the demonstration and included applying for additional funding. Schematics were developed to identify how the components would interconnect to fit the proposed vision. The third and final phase was to purchase the required parts for the demonstration as well as installing the demonstration itself in Riley Park. Information placards were also drafted and created to be installed alongside the demonstration to deliver tangible facts on renewable energy, such as nationwide consumption, how each source works in converting natural energy into electricity, and the benefits of each renewable source. [Figure 1] Through the installed RED, park visitors can view renewable energy in action, with the intent that it will encourage them to install renewables in their own homes when undergoing renovations. Community members can generate electricity themselves mechanically through an attached hand crank and compare this energy to the real-time energy generated from the other modules (solar, wind, hydro), which varies depending on the current weather conditions. This not only encourages expanding the use of renewables to the commercial level, but also allows the community to connect with nature through exploring usable energy that is derived directly from natural processes, such as from the sun, wind, or flowing water. In understanding how these energy sources function, it is brought to light how we are currently in an age where technology has developed to efficiently take advantage of harnessing these natural resources. Such advances have allowed for Canada’s abundance of renewable resources to provide 18.9% of total primary energy supply to power millions of homes across the country (National Energy Board, 2017b).

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Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International

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