CHP – a cleaner and more efficient way to generate energy

Combined Heat and Power (CHP) systems used in energy generation are now making their impact on providing energy more efficiently than conventional systems and helping facilities achieve green gas emission requirements.

The CHP system is an ideal way to generate both electricity and heat for various heat-intensive industries. Combustion engine shaft power is used to rotate a generator, which then produces electricity. The combustion engine heat losses are used to boil water to produce hot water or steam, which can be used to run steam compressors for cooling. So not only can the heat losses that result be used for hot water or steam production, they can also be used to warm up or cool down a building.

Basic CMYK
CHP is not a new invention, although it has only been used in some countries like the US for the past 30 years. Industrial buildings, hospitals, schools and healthcare centers that have a need for their own distributed energy production can take the greatest advantage from CHP systems. For them, the efficiency they can gain is an extra 40% compared with conventional methods to produce heat and electricity separately.

Over the next few decades, a definite growth potential exists, particularly in commercial applications. Until now, CHP has been unable to reach a larger share of total energy capacity because system efficiency, power, heat generation and demand must all be in balance before the system can function at its highest efficiency.

To utilize all heat produced, the system requires a district-heating network that utilizes hot water for heating. Such systems are very popular in many European countries. In Finland, CHP plants produce 36% of the overall power and 70% of the district heating.

Increase system efficiency and make commercial CHP more affordable

An efficient way to balance the steam, electricity and heat production is to use variable speed generators equipped with permanent magnet generators (PMG). Markets have been increasingly interested in advanced cogeneration systems, and more companies are assessing whether these systems are economically feasible.

Most commercial CHP systems use reciprocating vehicle-marine engines that are modified to burn natural gas, propane, digestive or biogas. Engines with PMGs and frequency converters for grid interconnection enable systems to run at an optimal speed and load point to achieve the greatest system efficiency. PMG enables higher system efficiency at partial speeds. A full-power frequency converter provides solid grid support and simple power management, while allowing the CHP system to disconnect immediately from the grid if needed.

Greener, cleaner energy for energy savings and emissions reduction

The Switch has a wide range of PMG machines and frequency converters to help customers save money and run greener processes. Now is the time to address climate change: CHP enables greater energy savings and greenhouse emission reduction.

Risto Ahvo
General Manager
The Switch Controls and Converters