Energy Department Actions to Deploy Combined Heat and Power, Boost Industrial Efficiency

October 21, 2013

Underscoring President Obama's Climate Action Plan to cut harmful emissions and double energy efficiency, the Energy Department is taking action to develop the next generation of combined heat and power (CHP) technology and help local communities and businesses make cost-effective investments that save money and energy. As part of this effort, the Department launched today seven new regional Combined Heat and Power Technical Assistance Partnerships across the country to help strengthen U.S. manufacturing competitiveness, lower energy consumption, and reduce harmful emissions.

Last year, President Obama established a new national goal of 40 gigawatts of new CHP capacity by 2020—a 50% increase from today. Meeting this goal would help American manufacturers and companies save as much as $100 billion in energy costs over the next decade and reduce emissions equivalent to taking 25 million cars off the road. View an Energy Department infographic on how CHP technology works and its environmental and economic benefits.

Launching Six New CHP Technical Assistance Partnerships

Since 2003, the Energy Department has supported a set of regional centers to help organizations understand how CHP can improve their bottom lines and lower energy bills.

Today, the Department is launching seven regional CHP Technical Assistance Partnerships—the next generation of these centers—to help further grow America's CHP market for commercial, institutional, and industrial businesses, state agencies, utilities, and trade associations. Located in California, Colorado, Illinois, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Washington state, these organizations will offer best practices for CHP project financing, management and state policies, market analysis tools and resources, and technical site evaluations.

Find more information on how the CHP Technical Assistance Partnerships are helping U.S. businesses and communities get the information they need to make smart, cost-effective investment decisions.

Strengthening Infrastructure Reliability and Resilience

Combined heat and power technologies can also help make our nation's infrastructure smarter, stronger, and better equipped to maintain power against increasingly severe weather events. During and after Hurricane Sandy, CHP helped hospitals, fire stations, and multifamily housing in New York and New Jersey continue their operations when the electric grid went down.

The Energy Department, the Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Environmental Protection Agency recently issued a guide to help state and local officials determine if CHP is a good option for Sandy rebuilding efforts. The guide includes practical information on financial, site, and technical decision-making as well as how to operate and maintain these systems.

The Energy Department is also helping critical facilities across the country invest in CHP—providing affordable, reliable power and heat and ensuring that life-saving operations keep running. For example, in 2010, Thermal Energy Corporation installed a new high-efficiency 48 megawatt CHP system to power and heat the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Texas Children's Hospital, and 16 other institutions at the Texas Medical Center. The Energy Department invested about $10 million in this project, matched by $62 million in private funding. Last year, the Midwest Clean Energy Application Center helped Gundersen Health system complete installation of a CHP system at its medical campus in Onalaska, Wisconsin—completely offsetting its electricity and steam needs and saving about $100,000 each year.

Developing Innovation CHP Technologies

In addition to technical assistance efforts, the Energy Department is supporting research, development, and demonstration projects to help grow the CHP market, including finding CHP solutions that fit small- and medium-sized facilities and accelerating new product commercialization.

Industries with high and continuous demand for both electrical and thermal energy—such as food processing, paper manufacturing, and metals production—are well suited for CHP installations but often face market and technical barriers to deployment. With that in mind, the Department is supporting demonstration projects to test how these systems impact plants' operations and energy use and help identify financing and maintenance best practices. For instance, the Department partnered with Frito-Lay to install and test a CHP system at its Killingly, Connecticut-based food processing facility. In addition to providing reliable, efficient power, the gas-fired system reuses excess heat to warm Frito-Lay's chip fryer oil—cutting costs and reduce harmful air pollution.

The Department is also supporting new CHP technologies that are cleaner, more efficient, and can use a variety of fuel sources. The Gas Technology Institute is developing a new CHP burner technology that cuts greenhouse gas emissions while improving overall system efficiency. Capstone Turbine Corporation is designing a combined 65 kilowatt CHP system and biomass gasifier that can use stalks, grass, and other material to generate gas and power a turbine. Capstone is also developing a 370 kilowatt CHP system that can save about 44% more energy over a traditional system while reducing carbon dioxide emissions by 60% and nitrogen oxide emissions by 95%.

See additional information on the Energy Department's broader efforts to boost combined heat and power technology.

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