In recent decades, the growth of production activities and quality of life have generated a strong increase in demand for energy and in parallel to this continuous growth has been matched by a high emission of pollutants into the environment, which are causing its degradation.
Through appropriate technological systems that are able to contain energy consumption and reduce polluting emissions, we can meet the energy and ecological needs of a society that, as we know, is constantly evolving.
Cogeneration is technology that presents itself with this objective, allowing to increase the overall energy efficiency of an energy conversion system.
Cogeneration is the process of simultaneous production of mechanical energy from the engine, which is then converted into electrical energy and heat. The heat can be used for heating buildings and/or for industrial production processes.
These systems are often referred to by the acronym CHP: Combined Heat & Power.
CHP systems are usually installed as close as possible to the user. This results in a very high primary energy utilization coefficient of up to 85-90%. Traditional power stations, such as large gas-fired power stations, achieve only one energy utilisation coefficient.
Between 40 and 50%, as a large part of the energy is lost as residual heat or is dissipated during transport from the production site to your business. In the cogeneration plant, the waste heat is used, as energy for heating, for the production of domestic hot water or in industrial plants, as process heat.
The efficiency of a traditional system compare with a cogeneration system can be easily sum up in this infographic:
The electricity produced is either used directly in the building itself or fed into the public grid against payment by the energy supplier. This allows the company to obtain advantageous independence from the national grid and gives its related problems, which can range from incorrect voltages, voltage drops, to the interruption of the electricity supply service.
The main advantages of a CHP plant can be summarized in:
- Economic savings;
- Energy savings seen as a reduction in fuel consumption (primary source) for the same end uses and consequent economic savings;
- Lower transmission losses of the electricity produced;
- Reduced environmental impact, lower emissions due to reduced use of fuel;
- Continuity of energy supply.
A small/medium sized cogeneration unit, i.e. with a power of up to 4000kW, essentially consists of:
- An internal combustion engine;
- An electric generator that can be of the synchronous or asynchronous type, with reference to the type of service to be performed: continuous, emergency, intermittent;
- Heat recovery units;
- Electrical panel for command and control.
Small and medium sized cogeneration plants (from 20kW to 4000kW), usually use traditional engines (internal combustion engines) powered by fuels commonly found in buildings and/or facilities for traditional space heating and/or production processes (Natural gas or L.P.G.).