The cost of producing energy is on the rise, a seemingly never ending ascent that places big heating and cooling bills in the hands of building owners. These costs are then passed down to residents. As a result, many boards are searching for ways to reduce energy expenditures. For some, cogeneration is the answer.
What exactly is cogeneration? Paul Morisi, lead program manager for Brooklyn-based National Grid explains that it is a process that allows a building owner to produce power through a natural gas engine. “Cogeneration has two byproducts which derive from recovering waste heat from the engine,” he says. “This waste heat can be used to produce heat or cooling for the building.”
This movement is gaining traction. “Cogeneration is a fairly widespread phenomenon both in Manhattan and in the outer boroughs. National Grid has been promoting cogeneration for a long time and there are hundreds of buildings already using it as well as many industrial and institutional buildings,” says Morisi. “Both New York City and New York State also promote the widespread adoption of cogeneration because of its environmental and energy savings benefits.”
Cogeneration requires a CHP (combined heat and power) system to utilize the recoverable thermal energy generated during the running of the engine-generator. “The cost of the fuel and maintenance required to run the engine closely matches the cost saved by not purchasing that quantity of electricity from the utility,” says Stephen Stone, president of the Long Island-based DSM Engineering Associates, PC. “The fuel saved by not running a boiler, electrical heater or purchased steam to obtain the heat generated by the CHP is the driving force for the CHP economics.”
“Interest in CHP really took off in 2008 when Mayor Bloomberg unveiled his PlaNYC sustainability vision, which aims to reduce the city’s carbon emissions 30 percent by 2030,” says Dale Desmarais, sales manager at Aegis Energy Services, which engineers, manufactures and installs modular, natural gas-fueled CHP systems. “CHP systems reduce reliance on other utilities, reduce energy costs and reduce carbon footprint. CHP saves on energy costs and emissions because one fuel source, in this case, natural gas, produces two sources of energy: heat and electricity.”