Today’s technology allows us to produce heat and power on site simultaneously, thanks to a process called cogeneration or combined heat and power (CHP). Electricity produced is released into the electric grid or to nearby facilities that require additional power, while the heat is sometimes reused by the plant and often channeled to nearby communities or facilities.
The efficiency of a CHP plant is very high, depending on the fuel used and other parameters, ranging up to 85%. Providing and generating heat and power separately is usually only half as efficient. This is because heat is a byproduct of electricity production that often goes to waste – the CHP process recuperates the heat and saves it.
The benefits of CHP are numerous: the process increases energy efficiency, lowers energy costs, and uses renewable and easily accessible locally sourced fuels such as biomass and biogas. CO2 emissions are kept to a minimum and exhaust fumes are treated in order to be environmentally friendly.
CHP units can range from 20 kW ones that are suitable for retirement homes, hospitals and schools, to large scale plants that have capacities of many MWs. Resalta develops CHP projects of 5 MW and upwards.
The most common technologies used are:
- steam turbine
- gas turbine
- fuel cell