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Cogeneration Installation: Lessons Learned
OTHER PARTS OF THIS ARTICLEPt. 1: Combined Heat and Power: Cogeneration Saves University MoneyPt. 2: CHP System: Turbine Reduces Greenhouse-Gas EmissionsPt. 3: Cogeneration: How to Commission a CHP PlantPt. 4: CHP System Lowers Utility Bills, Generates Reliable PowerPt. 5: This Page
During the process of building the Central Utility Facility, communication with occupants, staff, and the utility company was paramount.
"Whenever we shut down, we have to notify the utility ahead of time," Romatzick says. "For the whole process, the utility dictates your interconnection agreement, how you're going to connect to their grid, what safety measures have to be in place, and the cleanliness of the electricity you're generating. They're the final say."
Romatzick offers a few other lessons learned for facilities considering CHP:
Building size. "If you're going to build the building or find a location for the CHP system, make sure that it's large enough," he says. "Our facility is a little tight, as far as maintenance goes."
Additional equipment. "There is additional equipment you have to buy," he says. "We also have to increase gas pressure. We don't have a high-pressure gas main in the area, and turbines require 200 pounds of gas to operate. We had to install a 250-horsepower gas compressor to increase the pressure of the gas on site."
Nature of operations. "You have to have a place that you can year-round use that heating source," he says. "That's why it's so popular in hospitals and universities where you have a heavy air-conditioning load. You can use hot-water absorption or steam absorption."
Of all the benefits CHP is designed to deliver to facilities, the two biggest for Romatzick are cost savings and reliability, two issues that resonate with maintenance and engineering managers in any discussion of power management.
Says Romatzick, "The savings and the reliability — not being married to the grid in the event of an emergency. For a hospital, a university, or anywhere where uptime is critical, I think that's a big selling feature."
Is Your Facility a CHP Candidate?
The Combined Heat and Power (CHP) Partnership from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) provides maintenance and engineering managers with resources that help determine if CHP is a viable option for their facilities.
The partnership's website has four sections that outline the efficiency, reliability, economic and environmental benefits of CHP. To help managers analyze its economic feasibility, the section on economic benefits features a brief questionnaire to determine if CHP makes good business sense.
The website also has a CHP Emissions Calculator, which compares the anticipated carbon-dioxide, sulfur-dioxide, and nitrogen-oxide emissions from a CHP system to those from a separate heat and power system.
For more information on the partnership, visit www.epa.gov/chp.
— Chris Matt