Why American Colleges and Universities Choose CHP, DG, and Microgrids

By District Energy posted 09-07-2018 16:30


Alyssa Danigellis, Energy Manager Today

Photo: Inside Cornell University's combined heat and power plant. Credit: Cornell University


Combined heat and power facilities along with microgrids and distributed generation are gaining popularity at American colleges and universities as part of strategies to improve efficiency and lower emissions. Although CHP, microgrids, and DG aren’t a panacea, they are increasingly making sense for campuses with critical loads, Plant Engineering reports.

Having one large distribution network of buildings, living spaces, and research facilities located on a contiguous property make universities ideal candidates for CHP, DG, and microgrids, Chris Lyons, manager of power generation at San Diego-based Solar Turbines told the publication.

Having a reliable energy supply and the ability to integrate a variety of generation assets are the main drivers for implementing a microgrid, Lyons pointed out. They also help reduce costs. “CHP is a more efficient means of producing energy, which equates directly to utility savings,” Lyons said. “Solar and wind offer tax credits and other benefits.”

Cornell University’s combined heat and power plant was cited as a prime example. The university replaced coal-fired boilers with two Solar 15-MWe Titan 130 gas turbine generator sets for its CHP plant in 2009, Plant Engineering reported. Now, the Cornell Combined Heat and Power Plant generates approximately 180 million kilowatt-hours annually and provides the majority of electrical power for the campus, according to the university.

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