Combined Heat and Power

The cutting edge Cornell Central Energy Plant uses combined heat and power to cut carbon emissions by 25%...

The Cornell Central Energy Plan (CEP) utilizes a utilities technology generally referred to as combined heat and power (CHP). CHP is the simultaneous production of electricity and the utilization of “waste” heat for campus heating requirements. The Cornell Central Energy Plant includes two Solar Titan combustion turbines (15 MW each) coupled with Rentech heat recovery steam generators. Each turbine combusts natural gas to pro­vide the power needed to turn an electric genera­tor. Excess heat leaving the gas turbine is recycled through the heat recovery steam generator to produce steam for campus needs. The CEP provides the majority of campus electrical power and generates ~ 180 million kwh each year.

Overview of Combined Heat and Power

Commonly known as ‘cogeneration,’ combined heat and power is a way to increase the efficiency of power plants. Standard power plants effectively use just 40 percent of the fuel they burn to produce electricity. The remainder of the fuel used in the electric production process ends up being rejected and "wasted" up the smokestack. Reject heat from a combined heat and power plant on the other hand can be used to heat buildings in a surrounding area through a district energy system. Combined heat and power is only possible however when there is an area near the plant that has a need for the heat – like a university, for example!

If one of our nation's major energy challenges is currently lack of power, combined heat and power can help us double the efficiency of power plants – and even help the environment in the process, since combined heat and power means that less heat and fewer emissions will be rejected into the atmosphere.