Construction has commenced on a city block-sized green energy hub next to Doug Mitchell Thunderbird Sports Centre at the University of British Columbia’s Point Grey campus.

Hundreds of solar panels will be installed on overhead canopy structures on the rooftop level of the Thunderbird Parkade, doubling in purpose as shade structures for the vehicle parking stalls below.

The 1 MW solar power generation system will supply the electricity for green energy infrastructure on the block, including high-voltage, battery-electric vehicle charging, a hydrogen production and refuelling station, and battery-based energy storage. The solar arrays are expected to become operational in October 2022.

Site plan of the UBC Renewable Energy Hub in and around Thunderbird Parkade. (UBC)

Reversible electric vehicle charging enables the exchange of energy between electric vehicles and the grid, which highlights how buildings and cars can be “active participants in smart energy storage” given that they sit unused for most of the time.

The charging stations have already been installed on the ground level of the parkade and will be operational by the end of Summer 2021.

Current condition:

ubc renewable energy hub

The hydrogen refuelling station at the UBC Renewable Energy Hub will use the footprint of the basketball court next to Thunderbird Parkade and the skatepark. (Google Maps)

Future condition:

ubc renewable energy hub hydrogen station

Artistic rendering of the hydrogen refuelling station at the UBC Renewable Energy Hub. (DIALOG/UBC)

The hydrogen refuelling station will be built on the footprint of the basketball court, next to the parkade and skatepark.

Electricity generated by the solar arrays will provide the energy for a water electrolyzer that produces a 100% renewable hydrogen supply for the refuelling station for both light- and heavy-duty fuel cell vehicles. This refuelling station is expected to open in March 2022.

ubc renewable energy hub

Artistic rendering of the hydrogen refuelling station at the UBC Renewable Energy Hub. (DIALOG/UBC)

ubc renewable energy hub

Artistic rendering of the hydrogen refuelling station at the UBC Renewable Energy Hub. (DIALOG/UBC)

Research findings from this green energy hub will be used to advance further smart interconnectivity solutions between transportation, telecommunications, and civil infrastructure.

“This is an exciting moment for UBC,” said Santa Ono, president and vice- chancellor of UBC, in a statement.

“We are mobilizing even more of our institutional education, research and innovation capacity to pursue climate solutions. This renewable energy hub is an important piece, and we are truly grateful to our partners in government and industry who helped bring it to life.”

The total cost of the multi-faceted project is $23 million, including $5.6 million from the provincial government.

The green energy hub is strategically located next to a BC Hydro substation and the 2016-built Campus Energy Centre, which provides the supply of hot water to 130 campus buildings through 14 km of underground piping.

ubc renewable energy hub

Artistic rendering of the hydrogen refuelling station at the UBC Renewable Energy Hub. (DIALOG/UBC)

ubc renewable energy hub

Site plan of the hydrogen refuelling station at the UBC Renewable Energy Hub. (DIALOG/UBC)

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