District Energy Strategic Plan

District Energy in Guelph

Guelph is the first city in North America to announce and publish a plan for a city-wide thermal energy network—a kind of central heating and cooling system for the entire city. It works a lot like the power grid we use for electricity, and allows multiple buildings to connect and share a central energy supply.

It’s all part of the Community Energy Initiative. Guelph is changing how cities think about energy. The District Energy Strategic Plan is an essential step toward creating a reliable and sustainable energy future for our community.

Guelph’s District Energy Strategic Plan

District energy makes sense for Guelph

Guelph’s District Energy Strategic Plan sets a path to improve how thermal energy—heating and cooling—is generated, delivered and used throughout the community.

It’s good for people, and good for business

Guelph has already seen hundreds of new jobs related to the Community Energy Initiative, and a city-wide plan for several interconnected district energy systems makes Guelph even stronger by:

  • creating more jobs, attracting private investment and partnerships, and keeping energy dollars in the community
  • reducing energy price volatility and long-term costs for building operators
  • increasing the security of Guelph’s energy supply, and keeping more energy dollars here in Guelph

It’s good for the environment

According to the plan, Guelph’s district energy network will:

  • provide at least 50 per cent of Guelph’s total heating needs
  • reduce greenhouse gas emissions from heating
  • contribute significantly to goals of Community Energy Initiative

Guelph’s got big plans when it comes to energy

  • Today, the energy to heat homes and buildings accounts for about half of Guelph’s total energy use
  • The Community Energy Initiative focuses on increasing the efficiency of homes and buildings: by increasing the efficiency of heating and hot water systems, the city can grow by 50 per cent without needing more energy
  • Guelph’s district energy network will allow the majority of the city to be served with reliable, cost competitive, and cleaner heating, cooling and hot water services
  • Within 15 years, at least a quarter of Guelph’s total energy requirement will be competitively sourced from locally created renewable resources
  • Investing in efficient local energy systems reduces the impact of future price increases, and keeps more energy dollars in our community

Map of key district energy locations in Guelph

District Energy Basics

Buildings connected to a district energy system save money because they don’t need individual furnaces, boilers, air conditioning units, or cooling towers. District energy allows multiple buildings to share a super-efficient heating and cooling system.

A central network of underground pipes moves steam, hot or cold water to provide space heating, water heating, air conditioning, and, in some cases, electrical power for the buildings connected to the system. Benefits include:

  • more predictable long-term operating costs
  • dependable, reliable thermal energy
  • reduced greenhouse gas emissions
  • reduced space requirements
  • reduced fuel and maintenance costs, and avoiding capital costs

Cogeneration or combined heat and power (CHP)

As part of the District Energy Strategic Plan, at least 30 per cent of Guelph’s anticipated total electricity requirements will be associated with Combined Heat and Power (CHP) or other forms of local generation.

Generating electricity creates a lot of heat that typically goes to waste. At a large-scale power plant, up to 60 per cent of the energy used to generate electricity can be lost by wasting heat and transmitting electricity over long distances; from the power plant to homes and businesses.

A building with a small or mid-sized cogeneration system can generate its own electricity and recover 30 to 40 per cent of the heat that would otherwise go to waste. The heat can be used for water or space heating, while the electricity helps operate the facility. Also known as combined heat and power (CHP), the system reduces electricity and heating costs, and can provide emergency back-up in the event of a power outage.

Additional Resources – learn more about district energy

Watch the video to learn more how district energy works, who is using it, and how they benefit.

Produced by International District Energy Association

Guelph’s District Energy Partners

District Energy Associations