The world, of late, has realized that natural and conventional resources of energy generation like fossil fuel are gradually inching towards extinction and also causing global concerns like the greenhouse effect and global warming threatening the world with various untoward effects on climate and environment.
Factually, the majority of energy production still comes from the use of traditional fossil fuels and needs other energy generation options like renewable energy that includes solar and wind power. However, in responding to the call for a reduction in fossil fuels; many companies have started generating energies using waste material instead of burdening landfill sites.
Various technologies are being employed that can produce energies like electricity and heat but often during the process of electricity generation; a lot of heat generated often goes waste.
For this, cogeneration technology is used for the simultaneous production of two forms of energy, such as electrical and thermal.
Cogeneration or Combined Heat and Power (CHP) and its benefits
Cogeneration is an integrated energy system that facilitates the simultaneous generation of heat and power from a single fuel source that may be coal, oils, or natural gas.
Cogeneration is also used with biomass products like sugarcane, vegetable oils, wood, organic waste, and residues from the food or agricultural industries
During the process of fuel combustion, cogeneration besides producing electricity also stores or captures the excess heat which otherwise would have been remained unused and wasted. This stored or captured heat can be used for various other simultaneous functions like boiling water for making steam and heating buildings. The steam created by boiling water can help drive turbines that may drive a generator that is capable of producing electricity.
By preventing or minimizing heat wastage, cogeneration plants can convert up to 90% of the fuel source into sustainable and useable energy. One of the main reasons to use cogeneration is to save energy and costs by diminishing fuel consumption.
Cogeneration by merging the production of usable heat and electricity into a single energy production process prevents environmental damage by reducing fuel consumption, lessening carbon emission, and saving energy production costs.
The cogeneration plants by reducing energy waste, help mitigate climate change while increasing energy efficiency.
How does Cogeneration work?
In order to understand how does a cogeneration plant work, it is important to understand its basic components.
Cogeneration plant consists of four basic components, such as:
- A prime mover – serves as the engine
- An electricity generator- that converts mechanical energy into electrical energy
- A heat recovery system – for storing or capturing heat from the prime mover
- A control system i.e., Heat exchanger – ensures that the heat prevented from escaping or captured heat is put to use for the desired purpose.
Broadly, there are two cogeneration heat and power systems, called:
- Topping cycle CHP plants – that starts with electricity generation and are more commonly used
- Bottoming cycle CHP plants – Generate heat is first and the waste heat then produces steam which is used to generate electricity. Mostly, these plants are installed in the industries for running extremely high-temperature furnaces.
Suez Energy botany cogeneration plant in Australia uses safe, non-recyclable materials as fuel which otherwise would have gone to landfill sites for making steam and electricity for use in various industries like running the paper and recycling mills.