As awareness about global warming spreads, along with knowledge of the role greenhouse gas emissions play in the process, more and more governments, corporations, and everyday people are looking to technology for a solution. Already energy efficient products, public awareness campaigns, and new emissions regulations are making a positive difference. However, by far one of the most powerful and potentially revolutionary ways to solve the problem is by developing more environmentally responsible power solutions. Two such solutions are distributed power generation (DG) and combined heat and power (CHP) systems.
What Are DG and CHP Systems?
Distributed power generation (DG) systems upend the traditional power supply model. Typically power plants operate by producing massive amounts of power at large-scale power facilities and then transmitting that energy across the power grid, often over very long distances, to power users. By contrast DG systems generate power on-site or in close proximity to the facility that will be using it. For more information about how DG systems work please check out our article entitled: The Benefits of Distributed Power Generation (DG).
Meanwhile combined heat and power (CHP) systems play their own revolutionary role in protecting the environment by drastically reducing wasted energy. When energy is generated heat is released as a natural byproduct. Under the conventional energy model this heat is lost and is simply considered “waste heat.” However, heat itself is frequently needed for industrial processes, water heating, or general air heating and as such more fuel is burned to generate this heat. CHP systems eliminate waste by capturing the heat formed in energy production to begin with and then utilizing it where it is needed, thus combining heat and power systems. For more information about CHP systems please read our article entitled: What Are Combined Heat and Power (CHP) Systems?
DG & CHP Systems Feature Better Energy Efficiency
The most obvious ways that DG & CHP systems benefit the environment is by improving energy efficiency. DG systems do this by drastically cutting back on the amount of power lost during energy transmission across the power grid. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) as much as 7% of power is lost during traditional grid transmission and distribution. Because DG systems are generating power on-site they do not require power-burning, long-range transmission.
CHP systems meanwhile prevent the need to essentially burn fuel twice to generate power, once by generating the power and a second time by using that power to generate heat. By capturing waste heat in the first place they dramatically reduce energy costs and the emissions associated with them.
Clean Fuel Sources
Most DG systems also have the benefit of being able to utilize traditional fuel sources such as natural gas. However, they also work with cleaner fuel sources such as synthetic natural gas (SNG), which is vaporized propane that is mixed with air. SNG has the same combustion properties as traditional natural gas, and will likewise work with natural gas burners and equipment, but it burns much more cleanly than traditional natural gas, thereby reducing emissions. Another benefit is that SNG can be transported using the same infrastructure as traditional natural gas. This is not only faster and less expensive to implement, but also eliminates the need to use up new resources developing a new infrastructure.
Combination DG & CHP Systems
Another environmental benefit of DG & CHP systems is that they can be integrated on-site into a single energy efficient system, once again eliminating the need for double resources and fuel. By combining and implementing DG & CHP systems companies are able to benefit the environment, reduce heat and energy costs, and gain greater energy independence and reliability. Excess fuel can even be sold back to the grid for a profit. Polaris is excited to be involved in the DG & CHP movements and is eager to help clients implement these cost-saving, eco-friendly systems at their facilities.