Distributed Generation: Cleaner, Cheaper, Stronger – Industrial Efficiency in the Changing Utility Landscape

The Pew Charitable Trusts

[Energy Efficiency Markets] … industrial energy efficiency is on a growth trajectory in the U.S. — not as fast as some would hope, but expanding nonetheless. Characterized largely by combined heat and power (CHP), it is set to increase 22 percent by 2030, or even more if Congress extends clean energy tax credits.

That’s the word from a report issued today by the Pew Charitable Trusts that looks at the tremendous upheaval created by distributed energy on the electric grid, and what’s to come for heat-related energy tech, such as CHP and waste-heat-to-power (WHP). The technologies use heat — otherwise wasted in production processes — to create useful energy. This leads to fuel savings and emissions reductions…

More dependent than ever on electricity, the U.S. economy is intolerant of power outages. Yet, the U.S. experiences more outages than any other developed nation. Outages increased six-fold from 2000 to 2014, with disruptions rising from 2.5 to almost 18 times per month, says the report, which was prepared by ICF International.

The cost to the U.S. economy?  About $150 billion per year based on US Department of Energy data.

CHP is generally located onsite and is part of many microgrids, so plays a big role in today’s push for greater grid reliability and storm resiliency…

Most of the CHP facilities use natural gas. Because of their high efficiency — they use far less fuel to produce energy than a conventional power plant — they lower the overall carbon footprint in the U.S. In all, they reduce energy consumption by about two percent nationally, the equivalent of removing 250 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions, or shutting down 66 coal-fired plants, according to the report.

A lot of potential exists to develop more industrial energy efficiency. The US could add 60 GW of CHP for industrials; 66 GW of CHP in the commercial sector; and 15 GW of WHP largely in the oil and gas industries.

Together, the tax incentive and the Clean Power Plan are likely to boost industrial energy efficiency 27 percent for total capacity additions that reach 22.8 GW by 2030. That’s 16.1 GW of CHP and 6.7 GW of WHP, according to the report…


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