I was struck by the presence at the recent Powergen Europe exhibition held in Amsterdam by the growing number of companies marketing technologies to capture and make use of heat being created and then discarded in various settings, such as industrial processes and landfill and agricultural sites that use engine generators to make power from renewable fuels.
This is not the classic CHP pattern, as in many cases the ‘waste’ heat is used not as thermal energy, but to generate more power to boost the output of a power-only generating station. But there are obvious similarities where effort is made to make use of heat that would otherwise be discarded, thus increasing the efficiency of the overall process.
The dominant technology is based on the Organic Rankine Cycle (ORC) which, while similar to that used by steam turbines, employs an organic fluid rather than water vapour, and is said to deliver several operational and efficiency benefits. ORC plants are often smaller than steam turbines too. More than one company was displaying technology that can operate with lower-temperature waste heat than was possible previously, opening up the possibility of a new revenue stream for operators of industrial plants and renewable generation schemes.
The move is yet another example of the steady movement of heat up energy agendas previously dominated almost exclusively by power generation.
A week before the Powergen Europe event, COGEN Europe and Euroheat & Power united to hold their first joint conference, in Brussels. The two associations, which represent Europe’s CHP and district heating and cooling industries respectively, were moved to join forces to ‘emphasize the proven capability and still untapped potential for cogeneration and district heating in the more efficient use of energy in Europe.’ The UK CHPA Association has since made a similar move to implicitly include district heating and cooling in its branding, although the association has always represented the district heating sector. CHP exists quite happily without district heating – and vice versa – but they form an unbeatable combination when used together.
In this issue of COSPP, feature articles range from a discussion of the changing (improving) environment for CHP deployment in the US; through the highly ambitious plans by the Australian City Sydney eventually to supply all of its power needs from local trigeneration plants; to an account by the Global Environment Facility of it’s investment to encourage the growth of cogeneration in China’s industrial sector.
Elsewhere we include a study of the considerable scope for CHP plants to be installed at wastewater treatment plants in California – using ‘waste’ biogases to make heat and power on-site has always been perhaps the most elegant application of CHP technology. And we also include articles on the growth of CHP in Berlin, as well as case studies of installations in London (a fuel cell trigeneration system), Canada (a district energy scheme based on biomass gasification) and at a German hotel.
Steve Hodgson Editor, COSPP PS. Please do visit www.cospp.com to see regular news updates on cogeneration and decentralized energy from around the world, together with the current issue of the magazine in full and an archive of articles from previous issues. You can use the same website address to subscribe to the magazine and to sign-up for our monthly COSPP e-newsletter.