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BRIGHTER ENERGY: Partnership puts commercial air conditioning on ice

January 6, 2011

by James Cartledge

Thermal storage specialist Ice Energy has teamed up with heating and air conditioning company Trane to develop energy storage-compatible air conditioning systems for commercial customers.

The agreement will see Trane’s rooftop HVAC systems shipped “Ice Ready” for seamless integration with Ice Energy’s Ice Bear energy storage systems.

The Ice Bear system uses lower-cost power during off-peak periods to produce ice, which can then assist air conditioning systems during peak periods to help reduce building energy costs.

Trane, part of Irish industrial conglomerate Ingersoll Rand, will work with Colorado-based Ice Energy to provide the high-efficiency air conditioning systems for key national accounts and other customers building new or upgraded systems.

The companies said their combined technologies would enable a “powerful change” in how and when energy is consumed for air conditioning in commercial buildings.

“Combining Ice Bear energy storage with high-efficiency Trane systems represents an exciting new approach to helping our customers shift their peak electricity demand,” said Tom Troyanek, director, sourced product development for Trane.

“They can now take advantage of more efficient nighttime power to provide daytime cooling, which can lower energy costs without impacting occupants’ comfort.”

The Ice Bear system stores energy at night by freezing water in an insulated storage tank. During the day it works with the Ice-Ready air conditioning systems to dispatch the stored energy to deliver cooling to the building, reducing the amount of electricity required on peak.

During off-peak hours, the conventional HVAC system operates as usual.

When aggregated and deployed at scale, Ice Energy’s Ice Bear energy storage system represents a new, sustainable energy solution equivalent to thousands of megawatts of clean peak power for utilities, enabling them to deliver reliable, affordable electric service to their customers in a sustainable, environmentally-sensitive manner, the company said.

“We’re pleased to align with Trane to offer a turnkey solution for virtual ‘plug and play’ integration with our products and controls,” said Brian Parsonnet, chief technology officer for Ice Energy. “Companies like Trane are an integral part of the ecosystem we are building to deliver a scalable, reliable and cost-effective solution to utilities for addressing the problem of peak demand.”

Last year, the Southern California Public Power Authority announced plans to undertake a 53-megawatt (MW) energy storage project utilizing Ice Energy technology. The project represents the potential to deploy integrated Ice Bear and Trane systems on thousands of locations throughout southern California.

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