The heat index in NYC reached 106 degrees on Thursday, July 21st and climbed into Friday and the weekend.
According to news reports, Con-Edison started calling clients to cut back on electric usage and maintain the load at a lower level to avoid brown-outs and black-outs. Distributed power generation can help manage power loads for utilities and provide security for large industrial and commercial customers.
Distributed Combined Cooling, Heating and Power Generation (CCHP) technology allows off-takers to generate a portion of their electricity and thermal power needs on-site. By utilizing CCHP as part of their portfolio of energy sources commercial customers can hedge against overload on the grid and insure dependable power for critical systems.
The DOE characterizes CCHP (also known as CHP) as a combined cycle system that generates electricity and uses the thermal waste by-products of generation and recycles the waste energy to generate chilled and hot water for cooling and heating. The CCHP increases efficiency by using a waste material to create a useful commodity thus reducing the environmental impact of power generation.
CCHP has the following characteristics:
–Simultaneously generate electricity and thermal energy through a single energy stream
–Is not a single technology but a suite of technologies, including Gas Combustion Turbines, Fuel Cells, and Micro Turbines
–Can utilize multiple fuel sources to generate electricity and thermal energy
–Can be deployed without geographic constraints quickly and efficiently
–Systems have been deployed for off-grid and on-grid applications
–Applications include mining camps, metro office buildings, hotels, universities, hospitals, Army facilities and other commercial and strategic locations
–Most applications generate 25%-40% of electricity and 70-85% of Thermal Energy for heating and cooling
–Can function in conjunction with solar and wind to offer a comprehensive energy solution with a lower impact on the environment and the grid
On-Site Distributed Energy
Conventional generation of energy is highly inefficient and converts approximately 30% of the input energy into usable energy. Highly efficient CCHP systems can be greater than 80% efficient in converting the single stream fuel source into usable energy. As a highly efficient system, CCHP are an attractive technology suite that can provide economical energy for various applications as well reduce the impact on the environment, including local and regional air quality.
Figure 1, shows the basic design of a CCHP system.
On-site CCHP systems applications are expected to grow as the need for reliable power and thermal energy increases–especially in congested metro areas. Utilities are challenged to generate additional peak power from cleaner sources of fuel and achieve similar efficiency as an on-site CCHP system. T
he DOE has targeted growth for the sector and expects to see 50 GW of power generation from CCHP implementations. The development of newer technologies, such as micro gas-turbines and fuel cells, should help spur a growth in the sector, especially in the metro areas. Additional policies for clean air and energy efficiency would also foster broader acceptance of distributed CCHP adoption.
Figure 2 shows the basic economic factors for a CCHP application with the key take-away being improved power reliability at a lower cost and reduced environmental impact.
Distributed electricity and thermal energy generated by CCHP applications offers a cost-effective and environmentally friendly resource. Customers benefit by having a standalone generation plant, save money by using a single energy stream twice–to generate electricity and thermal energy for cooling and heating. Utilities can benefit by reducing capital cost, grid loads and their carbon footprint.
CCHP allows customers and utilities to hedge against environmental factors – extreme weather that can stress the grid load. Power and thermal energy is produced at a lower cost by eliminating the transmission from remote power plants. CCHP is a win-win for customers, utilities and the environment.
John Joshi is a managing director at CapitalFusion Partners LLC, an advisory firm focused on Project and Securitization Financing Solutions for Renewable Energy and Infrastructure Projects. He also runs the Carbon Finance & Securitization group on LinkedIn. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org