June 18, 2024
Combined Heat And Power (CHP)

Combined Heat And Power (CHP): An Efficient Way To Generate Electricity And Useful Thermal Energy

What is CHP?

Combined heat and power (CHP), also known as cogeneration, is an efficient process that generates electricity and useful thermal energy from a single primary fuel source. Rather than discarding the heat that is normally wasted in conventional power generation, CHP captures and utilizes this residual heat to meet thermal energy needs. This dual-purpose approach substantially increases the overall fuel efficiency as compared to separate heat and power generation.

How does CHP work?

In a typical Combined Heat And Power (CHP)  a fuel such as natural gas or biomass is burned in an on-site engine or turbine to create mechanical or steam energy. This energy is then used to drive a generator to produce electricity. The exhaust heat and steam from the engine or turbine is recovered to provide useful thermal energy for heating, cooling, dehumidification, or industrial processes. By capturing heat that would otherwise be wasted, CHP can achieve overall fuel efficiencies as high as 80%. Heat recovery technologies can include heat recovery steam generators, organic rankine cycles, absorption chillers, desiccant dehumidification, and direct heat exchange/district heating.

Applications of Combined Heat And Power (CHP)

CHP technologies are well-suited for a wide range of large facility applications including hospitals, colleges/universities, office buildings, water treatment facilities, manufacturing plants, refineries, and district energy systems serving multiple buildings. These facilities typically have simultaneous electrical and thermal energy demands, making them prime candidates for CHP. Some specific applications include:

– Space heating and cooling: Recovered heat can directly provide space heating via hot water or low pressure steam systems. It can also power chillers, desiccant systems, or absorption machines for air conditioning.

– Process heating: Industrial processes like pasteurization, curing, drying, and steam demands for manufacturing can utilize recovered heat at higher temperatures than space heating needs require.

– Domestic hot water: Hospitals, dormitories, prisons and other large facilities require large volumes of domestic hot water which can readily be supplied by recovered heat from a CHP unit.

– Dehumidification: Desiccant dehumidification is well-suited for buildings with tight humidity control needs like medical facilities, data centers or industrial processes. Recovered heat provides the energy to recharge the desiccant material.

Benefits of Combined Heat And Power (CHP)

Reliability and Resiliency
– Provides a reliable source of on-site power and thermal energy, reducing reliance on outside utility grids and energy sources. CHP systems can often operate independently of the electrical grid during power outages.

Economic Savings
– CHP fuel costs are typically lower than purchasing electricity from the grid and separately generating thermal energy through boilers or furnaces. Savings come from the avoided energy losses of separate thermal and electric production.

Environmental Benefits

CHP results in significantly less emissions per unit of useful energy delivered to end-users when compared to conventional separate thermal and electric generation. Fuel is also combusted at the site, improving overall efficiency.

Improved Power Quality
– On-site generation provides stable and reliable power quality without energy losses incurred during long-distance transmission and distribution through utility grids. This is particularly important for sensitive equipment.

Barriers to Increased CHP Adoption
– Initial capital costs for Combined Heat And Power (CHP) systems compared to existing infrastructure can be higher due to additional equipment requirements. However, operating and long-term savings usually outweigh higher capital expenses. A lack of awareness of the economic and environmental benefits amongst potential users also remains a barrier to greater market penetration. Regulatory policies have also historically lagged technical potential in some regions.

– Global combined heat and power (CHP) capacity is expected to continue growing steadily over the coming decades as adoption increases in industries and facility types where it is most suitable economically. Ongoing technology improvements such as modularized designs, renewable integrated CHP hybrids, and system monitoring/controls will further drive market penetration worldwide. Expected policy support and carbon reduction targets will also accelerate CHP deployment where it can provide clean, reliable and cost-effective energy solutions to end users.

CHP represents an efficient, reliable and economically advantageous approach to meeting both electricity and thermal energy needs simultaneously. By capturing waste heat that would otherwise be lost, overall fuel use is dramatically reduced compared to separate heat and power generation. With a diverse range of applications and ongoing technology advancements, the role of CHP in sustainable and resilient energy systems is poised for increased global adoption.

1. Source: Coherent Market Insights, Public sources, Desk research
2. We have leveraged AI tools to mine information and compile it.