Combined heat and power (CHP), or cogeneration, is the production of electricity and thermal energy from a single fuel or energy source. It pertains to a host of systems that allow for the heat that is otherwise lost or wasted in conventional power generation processes to be recovered and employed as useful energy.
Unlike traditional power generation systems, combined heat and power applications are usually located within facilities, near the consumption point. Cogeneration can help processing facilities operate at higher efficiency rates and reduce losses incurred from generating heat and power separately.
Combined heat and power systems have successful applications across different sectors, including:
- Industrial: pulp and paper mills, wood pellet production, packaging, agrochemicals, textiles, oil and gas production, refineries, wastewater treatment plants, food processing sites
- Institutional: hospitals, schools and colleges, military bases, prisons
- Residential: apartments, condominiums, planned communities, co-ops
- Commercial: health clubs, hotels, nursing homes, office buildings
Vista has a decades-long history of engineering some of the most successful facilities in the Canadian energy sector. We understand the advantages and disadvantages of cogeneration and have extensive experience designing specialized processes to maximize a facility’s thermal and electrical commodity use, through combined heat and power systems.
Vista focuses on helping clients analyze their power needs and engineering fit-for-purpose design solutions. Additionally, Vista has relationships with a variety of power producers that can provide financing, ownership, and operation, depending on the end client’s preference.
Common technologies used in both bottoming cycle or topping cycle combined heat and power systems include:
Gas turbines are like internal combustion engines that burn fuel (natural gas or liquid fuels) to generate electricity. The heat generated from the turbine exhaust can be used to generate high-pressure steam, which is useful in industrial processing facilities.
Steam turbines generate power from steam produced in boilers. This power runs generators that produce electricity. They can operate using a large variety of fuels, including natural gas, coal, and biofuels (i.e. wood pellets or another biomass).
Microturbines are small and compact gas turbines. They work as internal combustion engines to produce both heat and electricity on a comparatively smaller scale. Microturbines also utilize different fuels, such as natural gas and liquid fuels (kerosene, gasoline, etc.).