UNL starts construction on new energy storage facility

Monday, November 14, 2016
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With 25,260 students, the University of Nebraska-Lincoln campus needs a lot of electricity to keep everything running.

To help make the university more sustainable and decrease energy costs, UNL is opening a new Thermal Energy Storage facility on City Campus. There’s been an operational TES facility on East Campus since 2012, but the City Campus addition will help further decrease costs and increase energy efficiency, Charlie Gibbs, technical manager at UNL, said. Planning for the new City Campus facility began in 2011, and facility construction is now underway.

The TES facility on East Campus helps with energy efficiency by chilling water in the night and on weekends, when campus is consuming less electricity. This process reduces UNL’s costs because electricity companies charge large consumers of electricity by how much is consumed and by the rate at which it’s consumed.

Gibbs said it’s more efficient to “shift electrical demand to off-peak night hours,” to maintain a more even rate of energy consumption.

Water is chilled in the insulated TES tank during the off-hours. During the day, when campus is busy, the water chilled the previous night is used to cool down all the buildings using electricity. This process helps reduce the need for extra electricity, keeps East Campus’ energy use efficient and more sustainable and lowers the electricity bill across campus every month, Gibbs said.

Katherine LaBeef, utility business services coordinator, said the TES process can be compared to two cars traveling 100 miles. When one car goes 100 mph while the other goes 10 mph, the car going slower will have less demand for fuel. In terms of the TES facility, the lower rate of consumption will ultimately be more beneficial than using more energy at one time.

Plant operations manager Tim Barker said the “operation of the [TES] plant is fully automated and is controlled by the operation staff at the central utility plant.”

Original article found at: http://www.dailynebraskan.com/news/unl-starts-construction-on-new-energy-storage-facility/article_0ae947d6-aa2e-11e6-a13c-57a5ef299fd0.html#comments