From 7-9 April, the World Alliance for Decentralized Energy’s DistribuGen Conference and Trade Show for Cogeneration/CHP 2015 will bring together business and energy leaders, engineering consultants, project developers, policy specialists and system end-users to Houston, Texas to discuss new power market dynamics, new technologies and new policies that are changing the game for the many cogeneration systems that experts agree are on the horizon, says Paul Cauduro, Director of WADE’s Cogeneration Industries Council.

‘The market for CHP is changing and many now have a better understanding about power generation,’ Cauduro said. ‘Aiding this understanding is the constant drumbeat of news suggesting that abundant natural gas supplies are expected to keep the price of the fuel at multi-year lows for the foreseeable future. As a result, the economics supporting CHP development are becoming increasingly attractive, thereby driving more adopters to seek CHP for both its economic value proposition and for power reliability.’

Cauduro spoke with COSPP about some of the highlights of the upcoming DistribuGen Conference. Here’s what he said not to miss: 

‘One thing we are going to be intrigued and interested to hear is the perspective of our keynote speaker, Pat Wood. He is a past chairman of the US Federal Energy Regulatory Committee (FERC) as well as a past chair of the Texas Public Utilities Commission, and he’s also the chairman of the board of Houston-based Dynegy, a power company with generation capacity across the US. He’s also on several other boards including the American Council on Renewable Energy. He has some interesting perspectives and experience, and has been on the distributed energy bandwagon for a while. He will share a bird’s-eye view of the power market, which will be intriguing and important for the industry to hear, especially at this juncture.’

‘It will also be interesting to hear the new market forecast presentations we have lined up,’ Cauduro continued. ‘Every time a new forecast comes out, it seems to be very favourable to the industry. I haven’t seen a forecast or a market analysis in several years that says growth is going to decline or level off; it all seems to point upward! So in the context of low gas prices, low oil prices and a little bit of turmoil in the energy industry, it will be interesting to hear the newest forecasts. A lot of continued growth is especially predicted for cogeneration/CHP, based on the need for reliable and secure power. A lot of people are understanding and valuing that now, with decisions based not so much on ROI or payback time for capital improvements – people are starting to balance that payback with the need for continuous and secure power. So all indicators point to continued growth and expansion of the market.’

Policy will also be on the agenda, with presentations on state changes and regulatory incentives. Cauduro says: ‘There are great regulatory and legislative changes occurring to help spur distributed generation systems, including CHP – and because, at the federal level, those changes move slowly, the bulk of that activity is occurring at the state level. For a quick example, Texas has just passed a change in statutes to allow for property-assessed clean energy districts (the PACE programme), where property owners can add energy and water efficiency projects to the property and get financed through a special assessment on the property tax. We believe this will be a great boon for CHP systems here in Texas, especially on industrial complexes built back in the 1980s where the equipment is now coming to the end of its useful lifecycle. So now the owners can make these improvements, and get them financed through tax assessment. There are some great state policies being implemented, and CHP typically falls under those changes, whether it is addressed directly or indirectly.’

And finally, DistribuGen 2015 will showcase technology innovators like M-Cogen, which has developed a trigeneration system for homes. ‘Their technology has been installed in homes in the Houston area,’ said Cauduro, ‘and has garnered some attention. Homeowners are now able to have their homes generate power and use the engine as a compressor for air conditioning and the waste heat for heating when it’s needed.’ And utility NRG is on the books to discuss distributed generation in public-private partnership structures – ‘NRG is really paving the way for this sort of approach,’ Cauduro says. ‘That they will be at the conference to share their thoughts on these new structures is very exciting, and a lot of project developers and independent power producers should be there to listen to that. They will gain a lot from it because NRG is blazing the trail for this.’ 

For more information on the conference, please visit www.distribugen.org