Steve Hodgson Editor, COSPP
A measure of energy independence may not always be the prime reason for adopting cogeneration/CHP or another on-site power technology – but where supplies of power from the grid are insufficient or unreliable, a measure of energy independence is highly valued. Those memorable night-time photographs of cities blacked out by power grid failures tell a powerful story, with lights showing only in those few buildings with reliable stand-by power generators or, better still, their own full-time on-site power supplies designed to operate in island mode when needed.
For hospitals and many other buildings and facilities with truly essential electricity loads that must be serviced whatever happens, the provision of on-site power can be a life-or-death issue. Not that we should discount the enormous financial losses suffered by many types of business when power is interrupted, even for short periods.
Protecting revenues through ensuring the continuous operation of business activities has become an industry in itself. And it’s no surprise that data centres, with their enormous and continuous power and cooling loads, are providing a new application area for cogeneration and other on-site energy technologies.
We report in this issue that social networking company Facebook is to install a highly innovative solar-based cogeneration system – not in this case to serve a data centre, but on the roof of one of its headquarters building in California. Facebook has located the site for its third data centre in northern Sweden close to hydroelectric power supplies.
Two features in this issue address the energy independence issue directly, from the perspectives of companies in Russia and India. Russia is blessed with abundant supplies of natural gas but has yet to develop power grids that cover the whole country or offer reliabilities similar those enjoyed in Europe and North America. Operators of industrial sites and Russia’s many district heating systems are now turning to cogeneration to use some of those abundant gas supplies to generate reliable on-site power, and cogeneration suppliers see potential for much more.
Meanwhile, India presents a picture where ‘captive’ power stations are commonly used to insulate industrial facilities from patchy power supplies. A feature in this issue examines gas-fired cogeneration (and trigeneration) plants serving the textile manufacturing industry in Gujarat, although much of the potential for growth in on-site power in India is with biomass and biofuels.
A third feature illustrates how many airport operators in Europe – and one in Canada – have turned to on-site energy to keep the lights on and people moving, as well as to keep energy costs and carbon emissions under control, of course.
Last, let’s take a look at some winners. Another article in this issue describes CHP schemes from across the United States that have recently been nominated for Energy Star awards by the US Environmental Protection Agency’s CHP Partnership. We hope to feature a similarly inspiring set of British award-winning schemes, nominated by the CHP Association in the UK, in the next issue.
Steve Hodgson Editor, COSPP P.S. At www.cospp.com you will find regular updates and news items about cogeneration and decentralized energy, together with the current issue of this magazine and articles from previous issues. At this same address you can also subscribe to the magazine and sign up for our monthly COSPP e-newsletter.