The University of California, San Diego (see “Smart Power Generation at UCSD”) is just one of many combined heat and power (CHP), or cogeneration, systems in the U.S. A 2008 report by Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), “Combined Heat and Power: Effective Energy Solutions for a Sustainable Future,” notes that Texas has the most CHP capacity—much of it used by the petrochemical and petroleum refining industries. California ranks second, largely a result of “industrial demands, stringent air quality requirements, and effective policies that encourage adoption of CHP.”
The following sites provide information about CHP projects that may be of interest to those considering this approach to generation:
- The California Energy Commission’s CHP page includes CHP costs and electrical and CHP efficiencies using various prime mover technologies.
- For a list of all CHP systems in California, see this site. The largest systems are owned and operated by oil and gas extraction companies, utilities, and food processing companies. Most are fueled by natural gas, but some use biomass and even petcoke. According to this site, there are a total of 971 CHP sites in California accounting for a total capacity of 8,585 MW.
- A list of selected CHP projects by market sector (including “Universities and Colleges”) can be found at this DOE site.
- For a list of all known CHP installations in the U.S., see this Energy and Environmental Analysis Inc./ICF site, which allows you to search by state.
CHP Goals for the U.S.
The ORNL report noted that “The generating capacity of the more than 3,300 US CHP sites now stands at 85 gigawatts (GW)—almost 9 percent of total US capacity. In 2006 CHP produced 506 billion Kilowatt Hour (kWh) of electricity—more than 12 percent of total US power generation for that year.” (Europe overall generates about 11% of its electricity from cogeneration plants.)
The U.S. Department of Energy has an aggressive goal of having CHP supply 20% of U.S. capacity by the year 2030. As part of its Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy program, the DOE has developed eight regional Clean Energy Application Centers to promote CHP, waste heat recovery, and “other clean energy technologies and practices.”
Confirming the value that UCSD’s manager of energy and utility services, John Dilliott, sees in distributed generation, the ORNL report notes that, “If properly integrated, CHP can improve grid stability, increase capacity, and prevent power outages.” It goes on to note that “CHP and distributed energy are part of an evolution toward a more decentralized, efficient, resilient, and integrated power system enabled by improvements in alternative energy and smart grid technology.”
—Gail Reitenbach, PhD is POWER’s managing editor.