What is Cogeneration?
Cogeneration, commonly referred to as “Combined Heat and Power” or “CHP”, is the process of using one fuel source to produce two individual energy products. Significantly more efficient than traditional power generation, cogeneration can dramatically reduce utility costs while providing numerous benefits to including increased reliability, predictability, and significant reduction of carbon emissions.
Traditional Power Generation
Traditional power generation involves two separate processes. One process is for producing electricity. The other process is for producing thermal energy. Commonly, a utility will use conventional fossil fuels, such as coal, oil, or natural gas, to generate electricity.
This is used to produce thermal energy then it is made available for purchase by the consumer. Also requiring heating and cooling, the consumer will, in addition, have an on-site boiler or furnace to generate thermal energy. In this two-pronged approach, two fuel supplies are utilized and a substantial amount of heat and energy “waste” is lost to the environment.
Cogeneration is a technology that can be used to replace or complement traditional power generation processes. In cogeneration, thermal “waste” from generating electricity is delivered as a source in a highly-efficient process to supply useable thermal energy for heating and cooling systems.
Typically onsite or in close proximity to the consumer, cogeneration plants use a single fuel source; opting for clean fuels such as natural gas or biomass to produce both electricity and thermal energy in one efficient process. In the process, an internal combustion engine, such as a gas turbine, uses the primary fuel source to generate electricity.
In turn, a large amount of heat is generated as a by-product. Typically lost in traditional power generation, this thermal energy is made in to a source of energy for a heat recovery steam generator or HRSG, that produces steam or hot water for heating or other uses.
Inherently efficient, cogeneration eliminates waste and can often double energy production efficiency to significantly reduce annual utility costs, as well as provide a number of remarkable operational benefits.
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