Going Green: Combined heat and power
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Half of the electrical power used by this house and half of the heat needed for the winter is coming from a CHP, or combined heat and power energy system.
"Combined heat and power is just another term for co-generation, and that means, one, fuel producing, two, outputs. In this case we're burning natural gas and we're making both heat and electricity at the same time," said Karl Mayar, ECR International.
Instead of being wasted, the heat is being used to warm the house and produce hot water making it a more efficient power plant.
Mayar said, "The Freewatt system is about 90-percent efficient. The typical power plant is only about 30-40 percent efficient, so you can see where the energy savings come from."
The system is also supposed to reduce the home's environmental impact by reducing the output of greenhouse gases by as much as 6,000 pounds.
Michael Kelleher, SUNY-ESF Director of Renewable Energy Systems, said, "As part of our overall effort to make the college carbon neutral, we've been investing in systems to try and reduce our energy use and provide benefits for the environment. The Freewatt system is a system we're using to help conserve energy at the residence of the college president."
Edward White, National Grid Vice President of Energy Products said, "Another exciting application of this technology is it allows customers to use natural gas to produce their own electricity and offset what they would need through the utility. They're actually able to use the cleaner burning natural gas rather than the electricity produced at a traditional power plant."
This part of the energy system houses the engine, the equivalent of a five horsepower lawn mower engine and the heat generator.
The hot coolant is piped into the heat exchanger and the blower sends that heat through the house.
As the home is being heated, 1.2 kilowatts of electric power is going into the household electrical panel.
Mayar said, "The bottom line is this system will use about the same amount of natural gas as the furnace unit we removed from this house but it will make half the electricity needed to run the house."