Skip to content

Stage 1 - Modernizing the National Capital Region District Energy System (NCR DES)

Skip to content

Stage 1 - Modernizing the National Capital Region District Energy System (NCR DES)

Skip to content

One of Canada’s largest PUBLIC green infrastructure projects

As part of ESAP Stage 1, Innovate Energy is leading the design and construction efforts to completely overhaul and modernize the NCR DES. With over 1,800 construction workers involved, the project was ranked in 2021 the 23rd largest infrastructure project in Canada.

By 2026, the NCR DES will be completely transformed, making it one of North America’s first conversion of a large public district energy network from steam to a low-temperature hot water electrical system with electric chillers for cooling.

Work is well underway to build the new Gatineau Energy Centre (GEC), which will draw clean, carbon-free electricity power from Hydro-Québec and then connect to the DES network in a new loop of pipes that run through the downtowns of Gatineau and Ottawa. This distribution network will be supported by two new energy centres at Tunney’s Pasture and Cliff, located behind the Supreme Court of Canada, resulting in added capacity (at peak times) and redundancies to ensure the DES can continuously operate.

Modernization efforts are also underway at the NCR DES distribution network located at Confederation Heights, a federal employment hub located at Riverside Drive and Heron Road.

Once completed in 2026, the modernization will result in a reduction of 92 per cent of the NCR DES’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from the 2005 baseline. It will also generate almost half a billion dollars in savings from the time it will be in service to 2050. By 2030, the system will be in a position to be carbon-neutral.

In the National Capital Region, the DES currently:

  • Includes 5 central heating and cooling plants and four distribution networks made up of 14 km of underground pipes.
  • Heats 80 buildings and chills 67 buildings, including the Parliament Buildings.
  • Delivers steam, hot water, and cooling water through a combination of service tunnels, direct buried piping, and bridge crossings.
Stage 1 projects include:

The construction of some of the cleanest energy centres of their kind in North America:

  • The new Cliff Energy Centre near Parliament Hill
  • The new Tunney’s Pasture Energy Centre
  • The new Gatineau Energy Centre (GEC) in Hull, Gatineau
  • The upgraded and modernized Confederation Heights Energy Centre

The decommissioning of four older heating and cooling plants:

  • The Cliff Heating and Cooling Plant (over 100 years old)
  • The Tunney’s Pasture Heating and Cooling Plant (1953)
  • The National Printing Bureau Heating and Cooling Plant in Hull (1949)
  • The National Research Council Heating and Cooling Plant (1930)

Distribution Network Expansion:

This work involves the joining together of three of ESAP’s four distribution networks to create one large heating and cooling loop for the downtowns of Ottawa and Gatineau. This involves connecting the new Gatineau Energy Centre to the new Cliff and Tunney’s Pasture energy centres, by expanding the system’s underground network of pipes. The fourth network at Confederation Heights in the south of Ottawa will continue as a stand-alone loop, serving the buildings at this federal employment campus.

The Pumphouse:

Construction of a new river water intake facility along the Ottawa River’s north shore will provide GEC with a green and renewable source of cold water for the energy centre’s cooling services.
Learn more about how the new and upgraded clean energy centres will transform “grey into green” and bring new public benefits, with urban parks and lush gardens.
Key milestones for Stage 1:
  • 2016 - Funding Approval
  • 2019 - Project Launch
  • 2020 - Innovate Energy assumes responsibility for operations
  • 2020 - Start of Design and Construction
  • 2025-2026 - Substantial Completion and Validation Period
  • 2026-2055 - Long term operation by Innovate Energy

Learn more about ESAP Stage 2 to find out how the entire NCR DES will be positioned to be carbon-neutral by 2030!