US energy secretary Chu visits thermal energy corporation

US energy secretary Dr. Steven Chu has visited the Thermal Energy Corporation (TECO), the district energy company that provides heating and cooling to the Texas Medical Center in Houston, the largest medical center campus in the world.

“Dr. Chu’s decision to tour TECO’s district energy system and combined heat and power (CHP) plant validates how important these technologies are to our country’s energy future,” says Steve Swinson, CEO and President of TECO. “Dr. Chu fully understands the benefits of CHP ” that it doubles energy efficiency and reduces emissions

Through the Clean Energy Application Centers, the DOE is working with industry to double the amount of CHP in the US by 2030.

TECO, a not-for-profit district energy company founded in 1969, recently completed a $377 million energy infrastructure expansion integrating 48 MW of CHP. TECO’s CHP plant now operates at efficiencies of 80 per cent, more than twice as efficient as a typical utility generating station.

The CHP project, which received a $10m U.S. DOE American Recovery & Reinvestment Act award, will reduce carbon emissions by 75,000 tons a year and cut carbon dioxide emissions by more than 305,000 tons annually, when operating at full capacity. This is equivalent to taking 52,000 cars off the road.

à‚ During his visit, Dr. Chu acknowledged the substantial energy efficiency benefits of CHP and district energy and noted, “Texas is a leader in oil, natural gas and wind power and with projects like TECO’s, Texas can also be a leader in efficient energy use.”

The energy-saving CHP system allows TECO to keep pace with the medical center’s rapid growth and ensure that the energy system supporting more than $1bn in annual medical research remains highly reliable.

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