US CHP five years on from Kyoto

In the five years since President Clinton delivered this speech, CHP has gained significant national prominence. Support for CHP has become a standard element in national energy policy, with both the Clinton and Bush Administrations voicing strong support for policies and programmes. CHP has been included in numerous congressional proposals, achieving bipartisan support. CHP programmes have been initiated at both the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Department of Energy (DOE). The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) recently undertook federal rulemakings4 and a number of states also have undertaken rulemakings or legislation to deal with interconnection issues.

Five years ago, the promotion of CHP fell to a small group of advocates. Today, a strong national association has emerged, spawning companion regional initiatives. The US Combined Heat and Power Association (USCHPA) worked with the EPA and DOE to develop a national vision5 and roadmap6 that is being used as a framework for action. CHP has a rare and large base of support, with champions existing in both political parties, as well as with supporters spanning the interest spectrum from environmental advocates to large industrial companies.

However, in spite of the success in creating awareness and garnering support, CHP continues to face challenges in the marketplace. Many of the challenges are the same as were faced by system developers five years ago, with the most significant hurdles relating to utility interconnection. While progress has been made in a few states, we continue to lack national standards and some utilities continue to actively discourage new CHP in their service territories.

BACKGROUND

The thesis established by the early proponents of CHP was that the challenge was not in the technology, but in the markets. Elliott and Spurr (19987) argued that a conjunction of events had made the time ripe for CHP. Advances in new technologies (in particular turbines and reciprocating engines) have made CHP more cost-effective, while it also continues to reduce emissions. The push toward utility restructuring created an opportunity for non-utility entities to generate electricity. Finally, increasing demands for reliable and affordable power combined with increasing environmental demands increased CHP's popularity.

Several publications (Casten 19988; Elliott and Spurr 19987; Kaarsberg and Elliott 19989) identified barriers to the broader adoption of CHP. These were delineated in Elliott and Spurr as:

... with on-site-supply

Production lines at the Twiga Cement factory in Tanzania are kept continuously operational despite a highly unreliable mains electricity supply, thanks to a back-up power solution from Cummins Power Generation (CPG).

The local electricity supply in Dar es Salaam is so inconsistent that the cement company could typically experience power outages up to five times a day.

Twiga Cement's main shareholder, Heidelberg Cement Africa, commissioned Cummins Diesel South Africa to provide a turnkey project, including the design, supply and installation of a 3 MW power station, based on three 1 MW engine gensets, housed in a purpose- built plant room.

In the event of a mains failure the Cummins control panel starts the sets and within 15 seconds the units are on-load. The panel also controls the number of generators required on-line to support the load demand at any one time. When mains power is returned to the factory, the device automatically returns the load from the generators to the mains without a break in supply.

The installation also includes a network communication infrastructure that allows operators to remotely interrogate all genset parameters on either a desktop or laptop computer.

 


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