Sustainability Journal

January 2007 Issue (files are in PDF format)

Introduction by Moneca Kaiser

An outline of the objectives of the Ottawa Committee for Sustainable Community and of the Sustainability Journal

Global warming in Ontario by Ron Tolmie

Ontario is near the top of the list of densely populated areas that will be subject to substantial temperature increases within the century. The map link below shows one of the global scenarios prepared by the IPCC.

Link to the IPCC 2007 summary of Working Group I

Link to a summary of the Stern Review: Economics of Climate Change:

Link to the Full Stern Review:

Link to a critique of the Stern Review:

Sustainability Journal

February 2007 Issue (files are in PDF format)

Atmospheric Energy Systems

Heat extracted from (or rejected into) the atmosphere can be used for heating and cooling buildings, a process that can be applied on a very large scale if summer heat is stored for use in the winter. The storage medium can be water (as in Toronto's Enwave system), underground aquifers (as at Carleton University) or rock (as at UOIT). The potential scale of application is not determined by supply (which is enormous) but rather by our consumption of energy in thermal forms, which presently amounts to about 2000 petajoules per year, which is about four times larger than current nuclear power production. Such storage is cost effective now in efficient systems like the Minimalist system described in the reports, and the rise in temperature for Ontario caused by global warming will make it even more attractive.

Sustainability Journal

March 2007 Issue (files are in PDF format)

Zoning by-law to protect solar access by Martin d'Anjou

Proper legislation such as a zoning by-law protecting solar radiation access can go a long way in evolving our building practices and in encouraging sustainability.

Mid Size Heat Store by Ron Tolmie

A larger version of the Minimalist heat store that can store up to 19,500,000 kWh of heat and that can reduce the electric power consumption for air conditioning by up to 5,000,000 kWh. It is suitable for larger communities, or for large buildings, and can integrate a cogenerator so that heat, cooling, hot water and electricity are all provided in an extremely economical package.

Okotoks (Drake Landing), A Different Concept by Ron Tolmie

Explains the differences between a solar heat collection system (Okotoks) and the atmospheric energy systems described above and in the previous issue of

Sustainability Journal

April 2007 Issue (files are in PDF format)

Mitigation of Climate Change

IPCC Working Group III, Index of fourth report (the full report is to be approved on May 4, 2007)

Summary for Policy Makers

IPCC Working Group III, Summary of fourth report

Review of Alternative Energy Companies submitted by Jennifer Spallin

A listing of companies in the alternative energy sector (Canaccord Adams – commercial content)

Cooling Large Buildings by Ron Tolmie

A description of a cooling system that emulates the Enwave system that cools many large buildings in downtown Toronto. Both systems use the winter air as the source for summer air conditioning, and employ seasonal storage.

A List of Questions Concerning Ontario Energy Policies

Questions submitted to the Ontario Energy Ministry with some partial answers.

Sustainability Journal

November 2007 Issue (files are in PDF format)

IPCC Fourth Assessment Report (November, 2007)

Summary of the IPCC review of Climate Change studies

Renewable Energy Sources are Plentiful and Economical Ron Tolmie

A review of the available renewable energy resources

Using Stored Energy Ron Tolmie

The renewable energy sources need to be used together and they need to incorporate means of storing the energy in order to match their supply capability to the actual demand.

(The latter two reports were published as OpEd pieces in the Oct 26 and Nov 2 issues of the Kanata Kourier-Standard)

Sustainability Journal

March 2008 Issue (files are in PDF format)

Reducing Greenhouse Gases

Sustainability Journal

April 2008 Issue (files are in PDF format)

Renewable Energy

Heating Homes

Sustainability Journal

May 2008 Issue (files are in PDF format)

Air Source Concept


Sustainability Journal

June 2008 Issue (files are in PDF format)

Temperature Plots


Ontario Energy Board submission re. Ontario's (OPA) 20-year electricity plan

Sustainability Journal

July 2008 Issue (files are in PDF format)

Sustainable Municipalities

Sustainability Journal

August 2008 Issue (files are in PDF format)

Coefficient of Performance A secondary advantage of Atmospheric Energy systems is that they substantially reduce the demand for electrical power in comparison with the alternative of using a ground source heat pump. The reasons are explained in this article.

Borehole modelling (link)

General principles for ground heat extraction(link)

Sustainable municipalities (from the July issue of the Journal) A summary of the potential for using Atmospheric Energy systems in Canada

Sustainability Journal

September 2008 Issue (files are in PDF format)

Sustainability Journal

October 2008 Issue (files are in PDF format)

Balancing Power and Energy Outputs The design of systems that extract heat from the ground (including AE systems) requires that two separate objectives must be met – providing sufficient power to heat the building on the coldest day and also ensuring that the system is capable of meeting the total winter heating need.

Designing AE systems An outline of the procedures used to design Atmospheric Energy systems.

Sustainability Journal

November 2008 Issue (files are in PDF format)

Brochure A brief outline of home installations of AE systems

The role of AE Systems A review showing how AE systems could impact energy planning in Ontario (and all of Canada)

Notes re. The role of AE Systems Data and sources used for the review

Sustainability Journal

December 2008 Issue (files are in PDF format)

Sequestration of CO2

Sustainability Journal

January 2009 Issue (files are in PDF format)

Peak Demand Considerations

Sustainability Journal

February 2009 Issue (files are in PDF format)

User Controls for AE systems

AE System Tests

The Atmospheric Energy (AE) system installed in Kingston ON is performing as predicted. Test results will be presented at the 2nd Climate Change Technology Conference at McMaster University on May 13, 2009. In the meantime the following summarizes the results.

Addendum (May17) – PDF file of slides for the McMaster paper

Heat extraction rate – 20.0 kW (backup electric heat – 15 kW)

Borehole depth – 20 meters (quartzite)

Borehole extraction power – 192 watts per metre

COP 4.3

Injection flow rate – 16 US gallons per minute (1.01 l/s) Grundfos specification. (Not yet calibrated.)

Extraction flow rate – > 16 US gallons per minute (Not yet measured)

Injection starts at 15 degrees C (800 watts)

Injection is cyclical at higher temperatures, starting with a high rate and then falling to a more stable value as the ground warms. The following day the ground is cooler so the cycle repeats from a new base.

Injection rate at 22.5 degrees C – 14.9 kW per borehole, convection heating (early in the spring) Δt=3.53°

Injector pump+fan power – 40 watts (avg. during injection season, fan ON)

The demonstration system uses the “auto balance” capability to eliminate the need to monitor the heat input to control the cutoff point. Ground heat contributes a part of the net heat with that share changing according to the heat withdrawn during the previous heating season.

Sources of heat: Injection – 17,000 kWh, Ground Heat – 5000 kWh*, Electricity for heat pump – 5000 kWh

Total annual supply – 27,000 kWh (estimated from data for the previous oil furnace. The AE system could supply more if it is needed). Injecting 17,000 kWh of heat into the defined volume will increase the ground temperature by an average of 4.3 degrees C.

Ontario's Green Energy Act

Ontario Bill 150 (The Green Energy Act) has been widely hailed as a major step forward toward the adoption of renewable energy. However, at the same time the government (via the OPA) has put forward a binding 20 year plan that asks the Ontario Energy Board to approve what amounts to the existing energy mix, apart from a switch from coal to natural gas for peaking plants. The contribution of renewable energy is negligible in the OPA plan, consisting mostly of some power from wind turbines that actually increases the need to boost the peaking power capacity and energy share.

Bill 150 does not set a goal for replacing fossil fuel sources. It does not even propose a target or a schedule for making significant progress. It deals almost exclusively with the generation of electricity, which accounts for only about 4% of Ontario's energy consumption. The primary sources of CO2 in Ontario come from the buildings sector, mostly for heat, and from the transportation and industrial sectors, but Bill 150 has little to offer for those sectors.

Bill 150 establishes feed in tariffs for a few specific electricity sources, which is a break from the practice of imposing choices via the OPA. However, the rates for those feed in tariffs have not been subject to a process of public development and review. It just imposes someone's estimate for the values, which will be fixed via legislation instead of being subject to careful periodic scrutiny. There is no analysis of the consequences of either the administrative process or the values that have been chosen. There is no explanation for how the OPA management process and the independent feed in tariffs can coexist.

The OPA has said that it will modify its OEB submission to take the Green Energy Act into consideration, and indeed that will not be difficult to do inasmuch as the renewable energy contribution is so small to begin with.

Bill 150 can be found here.

My own submission to the legislative committee considering the Act can be found here.

Ron Tolmie

Sustainability Journal

May 2009 Issue (files are in PDF format)

Heating and Cooling Whole Communities

The cost of AE systems can be greatly reduced, and the installation simplified, if many homes or buildings share a single ground heat store. A generalized way of handling this for a mixture of building types is described in this month's article.

AE Street systems

The system described in the previous article introduces many new features that result from the distributed-source capability.

Sustainability Journal

June 2009 Issue (files are in PDF format)

Environment Canada report on GHG

In spite of the grossly excessive amounts of greenhouse gases being generated in Canada for many years and the national commitment to bring the emissions into line with the Kyoto objectives our emissions have continued to increase.

Power generation is not the culprit in Ontario

Most of the efforts being made to reduce GHG in Ontario continue to be misdirected. Our electric power is mostly produced by nuclear power stations and by hydro, neither of which produces GHG's, but in spite of this most of the attention has been directed towards the 3.6% of our total energy consumption that is produced by fossil fuelled power stations.

Sustainability Journal

July 2009 Issue (files are in PDF format)

Progress Report (July/09)

A progress report on the prototype AE-Street system in Kingston.

Trapping Heat

A review of the way in which AE and AE-Street systems trap heat.

Non-standard applications

An outline of how AE systems can be used for applications other than home heating and cooling.

Boosting AE System Capacity

The capacities of AE-Street systems and single AE systems can be greatly boosted without significantly departing from the tested design of the demonstration AE system.

Sustainability Journal

August 2009 Issue (files are in PDF format)

Late Season Injection

Heat can be extracted from the air in the winter whenever the air temperature exceeds the heat exchange fluid temperature. Such heat extraction is efficient and the heat is stored for later use.

Progress Report – Air Conditioning (Aug 22)

The AE system has performed very well for the air conditioning function. The high COP means that the objective of eliminating the summer power demand peak can be achieved either via using the heat pump or by passive cooling. Heat balance results for the year to date are reported.

Sustainability Journal

September 2009 Issue (files are in PDF format)

World Energy Statistics

A collection of statistics on the international uses of energy in various forms.

Sustainability Journal

October 2009 Issue (files are in PDF format)

AE-Street systems

A description of community Atmospheric Energy systems and their applications.

A Quick GHG Solution

AE-Street systems offer a simple and inexpensive solution to the problem of how to handle the heat (and the CO2 production) related to large buildings that use a lot of information and communications technology equipment. At the same time the AE-Street systems can also store massive amounts of energy from wind farms and even from nuclear reactors in a cost effective way, pointing the way to the elimination of the use of fossil fuels in the buildings sector for power as well as for heating and cooling.

Power sans CO2

AE-Street systems provide the basis for eliminating nearly all of the GHG generated by the buildings sector. The largest reduction is achieved by replacing fuels for heating applications but the energy storage capacity of the AE systems makes it possible to quickly and inexpensively replace the use of fossil fuels for power generation as well.

AE-Street Storage

The potential for injecting energy from the grid and from ICT buildings simplifies the deployment of AE-Street systems on a large scale.

AE-Street Specifications

The first generation of AE-Street systems can make it possible to deliver up to 500 kW (per site) of extra power from other renewable energy sources in addition to providing the heat for up to 50 homes per site. It utilizes the same components as are used in the existing AE system in Kingston.

Sustainability Journal

November 2009 Issue (files are in PDF format)

Net Plus Homes

Homes connected to AE-Street heat supply networks can meet all of their own energy needs and can support the means to provide even more energy to their communities.

AE-Street Capital Costs

A review of the capital cost of an AE system compared to other energy sources.

Sustainability Journal

December 2009 Issue (files are in PDF format)

Meeting Peak Power Demands

A simple addition can greatly increase the capacity of an AE system to handle peak heating demands without relying on backup heat sources. It also increase the energy injection and storage capacity.

What does Net Plus imply?

While an AE-Street system does not actually generate any electricity it can accomplish the same end on a large scale by reducing the power demand, and it makes it possible to employ CO2-free power sources like wind turbines or nuclear stations in order to eliminate the need for using fossil fuels for power generation.

AE borehole layout

Suggested spacings for the boreholes for AE systems that maintaining comparable storage and power capacities in various rock types.

Sustainability Journal

January 2010 Issue (files are in PDF format)

Copenhagen “Accord”

The Copenhagen conference on climate change did not result in a formal agreement. Instead the delegates took note of a statement of general intent that was agreed to by some of the participants.

IPCC statement re. melting glaciers

The text of the observations about glacier melting in the Himalayas had not followed the IPCC validation procedures.

Revised text

The text referred to in the above IPCC statement has been revised.

Sustainability Journal

February 2010 Issue (files are in PDF format)

Heat replenishment

The natural heat replenishment process for ground source heat pump systems is too limited to make such systems viable for large scale use in cities. Injecting heat (as in AE systems) solves that problem and in doing so it fundamentally changes both the technology and the economics.

Heat storage for large buildings

The GSHP heat replenishment process is particularly inadequate for large buildings. Heat injection permits the boreholes to be close together and their output is greater and more stable.

Sustainability Journal

March 2010 Issue (files are in PDF format)

Climate Change Consequences

Most people are familiar with the basic mechanism that is causing our climate but do not understand the implications of what is happening. The consequences fall somewhere in between a global catastrophe and weather changes that are merely inconvenient. Here is an article that tries to assess some of those implications.

AE for Large Buildings

A recreation complex to be built in Kanata, Ontario, illustrates how an AE system could eliminate the production of CO2 and could at the same time reduce the power consumption where improvements in the efficiency for air conditioning and hot water heating outweigh the power demand of the heat pumps.

How AE Can Reduce Power Demand

About half of Canada's homes use electricity for heating. Switching those homes to AE will make a huge amount of power available for other applications. It will also reduce the winter and summer peak demands, eliminating the need for expensive expansions of the distribution grid and improving the efficiency of the generation systems.

Sustainability Journal

January 2012 Issue (files are in PDF format)

AE for Mid-size Buildings

A brief outline of the use of seasonal storage for buildings from which a lot of heat is extracted in the summer.

A list of some current seasonal heat storage systems

Includes comments on the particular applications.