There are thousands of reported power outages each year in this country. According to one report, the number of reported power outages between the year 2000 and 2014, including those related to severe weather, rose across the United States. The increase is likely due to the increasing frequency of severe weather, along with aging power infrastructure and increasing demand.
When power delivery interruptions occur, many facilities are not ready to serve their community or their customers. However, facilities with distributed energy resources—the ability to generate power where it is used—that support some form of backup power or full microgrid capability will be able to deliver fundamental needs when centralized generators that serve the grid are shut down or when transmission is disabled.
Many organizations are turning to combined heat and power (CHP) for a proven and effective approach to reducing risk to electricity supply disruptions, providing low-cost on-site electricity generation, and implementing environmental benefits.
CHP systems improve energy efficiency by recovering and using heat that is normally wasted during conventional power generation. According to the Department of Energy (DOE), more than two-thirds of the fuel used to generate power in the United States is lost as heat. The DOE and EPA also report that while only eight percent of electric power generated comes from CHP systems, it saves users an astonishing $5 billion each year in energy costs.
Despite being a proven technology, a number of obstacles hinder the implementation of cost-effective CHP, such as financial and technical barriers that the article explores. Government may ease the path to cost-effective implementation. A number of states have initiated incentive programs for CHP, and many states recognize CHP in one form or another as part of their Renewable Portfolio Standards or Energy Resource Standards. The Environmental Protection Agency provides an online database that allows users to search for CHP policies and incentives by state or at the federal level.
Read more about Combined Heat and Power on our blog or download a free whitepaper on this topic.