Distributed Generation and Combined Heat and Power in Ohio

November 17, 2014  |  Jamie Landers, Project Manager

EON Conference2Part 1 – Identifying Key Features for your CHP Project

On October 23rd, 2014 Fosdick & Hilmer (F&H) participated in the Energy Ohio Network (EON) Distributed Generation and Combined Heat and Power (CHP) Lunch, Learn, and Do event located in Cincinnati, Ohio.  EON’s mission consists of bringing energy practitioners including citizens, businesses, academic, and not-for profit organizations together to help Ohio realize the full benefit of current and emerging energy opportunities. This mission is a fundamental part to the economic revitalization of the state, while also securing a sustainable energy future for Ohio.

Approximately 80 people attended this event. Attendees included facilities managers and engineers considering installing CHP at their facility; state policy makers including a State representative, a PUCO staff member, and a representative from the state treasurer’s office; IOU representatives from Duke Energy and Dayton Power and Light; equipment vendors and energy service providers.

I spoke on the topic of performing a Level 1 feasibility analysis for proposed CHP projects and some of the initial decisions an owner can make to increase the viability of a proposed project. Over the course of the next few blog posts, I will review the key points of my presentation and what should be considered when performing a feasibility study.

When considering a CHP project, it is important to identify the key features your proposed CHP project must have to be considered successful. There is no standard CHP system that can be purchased off the shelf. Each project needs to be custom designed to meet the specific needs of the owner’s facility.  Often, the number of options and features available can be overwhelming and a project can quickly get burdened with additional features that increase the installation cost but only provide marginal ROI.  Start out with a bare bones project that passes viability then add on additional features as your budget allows.

Below is a list of suggested key features to consider:

  • Thermal Capacity –  What is the minimum acceptable thermal capacity of your CHP project? For maximum resiliency your CHP plant should have ample capacity to carry your peak thermal load when traditional utility sources are not available.
  • Electrical Capacity –  What is the minimum acceptable electrical capacity of your CHP project? For maximum resiliency your CHP plant should have ample capacity to carry your peak electrical load when traditional utility sources are not available. In order to operate independent of the electrical grid the CHP must have black start, islanding, and synchronizing capability.
  • Balancing Resiliency vs. ROI –  Building a plant with ample thermal and electrical capacity to supply peak demand during islanded operations comes at a higher initial capital investment and a longer ROI. The high capital cost is due to the large equipment needed for capacity, and the longer ROI is a result of needing excess capacity that is only occasionally fully utilized during peak demand periods. Depending on your situation, a smaller CHP with only enough capacity to carry your facilities’ most critical loads may be a better choice. A smaller project comes at a lower initial cost and can be sized to run at 100% capacity at all times maximizing your energy savings and increasing your ROI.

In the next blog post I will discuss the process of collecting energy consumption data for use in a feasibility study.

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