More and more people are finding distributed energy solutions are the answer for their power resource challenges. Distributed energy comes in many forms. Renewables such as solar and wind are top-of-mind when most people think of distributed resources, but natural gas-fired generation is often a good fit too, because it adds reliability to the system and is a consistent source of backup power.
Energy storage is also a logical piece of the distributed energy puzzle. Wind and solar are obviously dependent on nature. You need the wind to blow and the sun to shine in order to generate power from them. But often, those conditions do not match electricity demand. Frequently, renewables generate power when demand is low and die off when demand is high. That can mean power prices are low or even negative when solar and wind are generating most of their power, and prices are high when they are no longer producing. Batteries or other storage mechanisms can help overcome that problem, charging during low-demand hours and discharging when demand is high.
Combined heat and power (CHP) is another great way to optimize systems. How CHP works is by using the heat that would otherwise be wasted in exhaust gases from fossil combustion systems, such as flue gases from a coal- or biomass-fueled boiler or exhaust from a gas turbine or reciprocating engine, to produce steam and/or hot water for various industrial or commercial needs. The process can increase efficiency of the combined system significantly, which saves money on fuel and reduces overall emissions.
In this episode of “The POWER Podcast,” Dalia El Tawy, director, Thermal Power Solutions Distributed Energy Systems with Siemens Energy, explains some of the work her group is doing to solve customers’ challenges. Born and raised in Egypt, Dalia came to the U.S. in 1999 to finish her education. She knew how disruptive power blackouts could be from her childhood and believed there had to be a way to improve reliability. She found it in distributed energy systems and CHP solutions.
—Aaron Larson, executive editor (@AaronL_Power, @POWERmagazine)