Christian Mueller 2016-01-11 12:31:06
Combined heat and power (CHP) systems are one of today’s most efficient, reliable and cost-effective approaches to electricity and thermal energy generation. By simultaneously producing both from the same fuel source, CHP is a smart solution for businesses seeking to control heating, lighting, and cooling costs. In addition to cost-effectiveness, CHP systems provide benefits that not only serve the individual facility of service, but also reach the communities in which they operate by offering large-scale energy efficiency improvements. Cogen In-Depth Because CHP systems require less fuel than separate heat and power systems, a reduction in operating cost, despite rising energy cost, is guaranteed. CHP systems use a diverse set of fuels and can typically be found in four market clusters—biogas, landfill, and wastewater treatment; natural gas non-CHP; and natural gas CHP. Each has its unique attributes and applications: Biogas. Methane is the second most prevalent greenhouse gas emitted in the United States, so there is an emphasis to reduce the amount that escapes to the atmosphere, particularly among farmers. With anaerobic digesters, farms are able to produce biogas from dairy, livestock, and food waste to generate energy. Electricity is the main energy produced in this application—either for self-consumption or to feed to the grid. Landfill and wastewater treatment. Large amounts of methane are produced in landfills and wastewater treatment plants. Instead of burning this gas in a flare, it can be used in a CHP system to produce electricity. Natural gas non-CHP. Peaking plants, independent power producers, industrial facilities, and any other requirement for electric onsite power generation can produce electricity more cost-effectively using CHP than purchasing it from the utility. With independence from the grid and reduced total life cycle costs, CHP systems are often critical for the economics of onsite generation. Natural gas CHP. A CHP system is well suited to consistently provide for the energy needs of most commercial buildings, industrial facilities, health care facilities, shopping malls, greenhouses, hotels, condominiums, and universities, which have a significant year-round demand for heating, cooling, and electricity. Total efficiency of a CHP system can exceed 90% in these applications. The benefits offered by CHP have helped the technology gain traction in the United States; however, the cogeneration process is not new. The principle has been put to use for nearly 135 years as a way to conserve resources. In 1882, Thomas Edison’s first electric generating plant—the Pearl Street Station in New York City—used waste heat from the plant’s steam engines to provide heating for nearby buildings. By supplying both heat and power, Edison was able to achieve an overall efficiency of 50%. In recent years, use of CHP technology has increased steadily in the United States due to growing efforts to reduce carbon emissions and mitigate climate change. Recognizing the underutilization of CHP as an energy resource in the United States, the Obama Administration issued a goal of achieving 40 GW of new CHP site installations by 2020. If accomplished, CO2 emissions will be reduced by 150 million metric tons annually, energy users will save $10 billion per year, and the country’s CHP capacity will increase to 50%. Historically, CHP was reserved for very large facilities. According to a report published in 2012 by the US Department of Energy and EPA, approximately 3,700 industrial and commercial facilities exist in the US. Today, smaller facilities such as hospitals, hotels, or school buildings are starting to reap the benefits of utilizing heat that would otherwise be wasted from the production of electricity. Searching for Sustainability It is estimated that Ohio has 54 CHP installations in the state totalling over 500,000 kW. With approximately 10 incentives for cogeneration, including the Advanced Energy Fund, the Advanced Energy Stimulus Program and the Energy Loan Fund, Ohio is helping drive growth in the CHP market as they strive to reduce energy usage and increase efficiency through a long-term strategy. “MTU Onsite Energy has seen an uptick in interest and installations in Ohio recently, particularly from municipalities,” says Kevin McKinney, senior sales manager at MTU Onsite Energy. “For example, Medina High School has saved more than $80,000 in annual utility costs with the help of a compact natural gas-powered Series 400 CHP.” The Dublin Community Recreation Center (DCRC) joins Medina High School in their utilization of MTU Onsite Energy’s cogeneration technology. Located about 20 miles north of Columbus, the DCRC is an 110,000-square-foot facility that caters to a community of 43,000 people. Housing three pools, classrooms, a community hall, a theatre, a gymnasium, and other meeting rooms, the DCRC offers classes and activities to children, teens and adults throughout the year. DCRC began its search for an environmentally friendly solution to power and heat its facility and began examining a number of options, including solar power. In the end, an IGS Generation LLC and Hull & Associates Inc. CHP proposal, which included an MTU Onsite Energy Series 400 CHP system, was selected. The system, which is owned by IGS, was co-developed by IGS and Hull and is completely customized to the specific needs of the DCRC. W. W. Williams, an authorized MTU Onsite Energy Gas Systems distributor, was chosen to install the system in March 2014 and the project was completed and commissioned in May 2015. “The DCRC was an ideal location for installing the CHP technology due to its high coincidental electric and thermal loads,” says Tom Drake, gas and power systems manager at W. W. Williams. The Series 400 CHP uses waste heat from the engine to provide thermal energy to heat the indoor pools and provide other hot water needs at the DCRC, as well as producing heat for the facility. Annually, the unit will average about 8,000 operational hours and will produce approximately 2,000,000 kWh per year, supplying around 50% of the annual electric requirement of the DCRC. The unit, which produces 248 kWe, is nearly twice as efficient as traditional power generation and is designed to operate independently and also reduces the operational usage of the boiler system extending its lifecycle. Serving also as backup power to the facility’s four existing HVAC units, the DCRC is able to be used as a community shelter in the event of extended outages, offering peace of mind to those who call Dublin, OH, home. Christian Mueller has more than 10 years of experience in power generation. As the sales engineer at MTU Onsite Energy, he’s responsible for gas power and CHP cogeneration systems in the North America region.
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