In the ongoing effort to improve efficiency while reducing greenhouse gas emissions, many large residential and commercial buildings are studying co-generation as a means of accomplishing both goals. In essence, co-generation signifies getting two forms of energy from one process. Blackouts, brownouts, and increasing demand on a weak utility infrastructure are causing many large cities to promote co-generation. Many complexes see it as a way to save themselves and their residents money on utility bills.
What is it?
Most buildings get their energy from the power grid, mainly through natural gas or oil-based systems. During the process, a lot of energy is lost, usually through steam. The idea of co-generation is to get two thermal energies from the one product. For instance, when a system produces electricity, oftentimes steam is released during the process. That steam can then be captured and used to provide water or space heat for the building; significantly cutting down on energy costs.
Rarely do co-generation projects provide all the energy needs for a building, but they can make a sizable dent. In addition, according to The Cooperator, a co-generation system is not for every building. There are several factors that must come together to make the project worthwhile, most notably the size and load factor of the building. New York City, led by Mayor Michael Bloomberg, has become a major proponent of co-generation in its effort to reduce the city’s carbon footprint. (more…)
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