Why CHP for Campuses?

Why CHP?|Emerging Drivers|Siting & Permitting|Technical Feasibility|Economic Feasibility|Next Steps

Former Energy Secretary Chu Tours TECO, Affirms DOE Support for CHP in Testimony Before Senate Energy & Natural Resources Committee, Citing Recent Visit.

Washington, DC - February 16, 2012. During the DOE budget testimony before the Senate Energy & Natural Resources Committee on Feb 16, Energy Secretary Chu affirmed DOE support for CHP and cited his recent visit to the Houston district energy system, Thermal Energy Corporation (TECO).

Why CHP for Campuses?

Results of a 2001-2002 U.S. Department of Energy and Oak Ridge National Laboratory-sponsored IDEA Survey and Report indicate the potential of CHP adoption in college and university, urban downtown, and airport campus applications.  A university campus is often an ideal application for CHP because thermal loads (heating and air conditioning) match well with power requirements and existing district energy piping systems already aggregate thermal requirements.

Report: Guidebook to CHP on Campuses

Combined heat and power (CHP) systems increase the efficiency of power plants. Standard power plants effectively use just 40 percent of the fuel they burn to produce electricity. 60% of the fuel used in the electric production process ends up being rejected or "wasted" up the smokestack.

CHP uses this reject heat to heat, cool, and/or dehumidify buildings in a surrounding area through a district energy system, sometimes doubling efficiency. Combined heat and power is only possible when there is an area near the plant that has a need for the thermal energy a downtown area, a college campus or an industrial development.

District energy systems are well suited for CHP applications because they:

  • Significantly expand the amount of thermal loads potentially served by CHP

  • Reduce the requirement for size and capital investment in production equipment due to the "diversity" of consumer loads

  • Use larger and more efficient equipment and can take advantage of such things as thermal energy storage that aren't economically effective on a small scale.

  • Aggregate thermal loads, enabling more cost-effective CHP.  District energy systems may be installed at large, multi-building sites such as universities, hospitals, and government complexes. District energy systems also can serve as merchant thermal systems providing heating (and often cooling) to multiple buildings in urban areas.

In addition, IDEA President Rob Thornton points out, many campus facility managers are well-qualified to understand and maintain CHP systems, and motivated to share their successes with other managers in a collegial atmosphere.

Beyond these factors, there are several drivers emerging on campuses that make CHP a winning choice. Siting criteria and permitting requirements, and technical and economic feasibility studies are needed to determine if CHP makes sense for a particular campus application. 

Next steps may include having Board of Trustee decision makers and technical facility managers to understand each others' languages to come to a decision that would benefit all interested parties.


Drafted by D&R International  |  Supported by ORNL  


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