Cogeneration Redefined: Going Beyond Electric

Natural gas driven equipment can produce the same benefits as electric cogen with up to 20% higher efficiency.

A long-time customer was concerned about increasing power costs, as one of its manufacturing plants in Massachusetts was facing rising utility “demand charges” for peak power usage. The scenario presented an opportunity for our engineering team to go beyond traditional Combined Heat & Power (CHP) and dramatically reduce peak electricity and demand charges.

As described in a previous post, cogen is “the simultaneous generation of two useful forms of energy using one source.” In the most common cogen systems, a natural gas engine drives a generator to produce electricity as the primary energy, also producing a heat byproduct that can be captured for a secondary use.

With rising electricity expenses and peak usage surcharges, customers are searching for new solutions to mitigate costs. The hero coming to the rescue is the concept of using the engine for its direct mechanical benefit, connecting directly to a power-consuming piece of equipment such as an air compressor or chiller. If an application has reasonable base load requirements, by eliminating the “middle man,” the natural gas driven equipment can produce the same benefits as electric cogen with up to 20% higher efficiency.

Production time and expenses are reduced because of the decreased need for electric interconnect studies that can take over a year to complete and integrate in engineering plans. Sweetening the process, the Federal Govt has extended and enhanced the investment tax credit on cogen systems to include gas-driven industrial equipment.

As with any type of cogen system, a useful application for the secondary waste heat has to be available.

Key Benefits of Natural Gas-Driven Equipment:

  • Elimination of Demand Charges
  • 10% Tax Credit for the Capital Cost of Natural Gas-Powered Equipment
  • No Interconnect Issues
  • Higher Efficiency

 

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