Friday, December 23, 2011

Competing Against the Power Grid: Gas Microturbines & Cogeneration Boom

Solar PV, Fuel Cells, gas microturbines capturing waste heat are all examples of booming distributed generation or on-site electricity solutions.  These technologies all cut pollution compared to taking electricity power from the grid, can keep the lights on when the grid is down, and increasingly are cheaper than taking power from the grid.  They are competing against and posing a fundamental challenge to grid power.

Low gas prices are making gas microturbines that capture waste heat a particularly efficient and attractive distributed generation option for business customers.

For example, as Carbon Black yesterday pointed out in a comment, the Philadelphia Four Seasons hotel has deployed three 65 Kw Capstone microturbines that capture and use waste heat. See Such systems are called cogeneration or combined heat and power (CHP). 

Compared to taking electricity from the grid, the Capstone microturbines configured to cogenerate cut Nox emissions by 95% and carbon dioxide pollution by 35%.  They also save money in nearly all locations.  According to the Four Seasons in Philadelphia, it is saving the equivalent of $480,000 per year.  The three microturbines and the heat captured is providing all the hot water and 30% of the electricity for the hotel.

Geisinger Hospital and Abbington Hospital are two more institutions in Pennsylvania that have installed gas-powered turbines on site that cogenerate.  The pollution reductions and dollar savings are substantial for the two hospitals as well.  This is a solution that is good for the economy and environment.

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