Industrial Facilities: Ensuring Reliable, Cost-Effective Power Generation Using Natural Gas-Fueled Combined Heat and Power (CHP) or Distributed Generation (DG)Many industrial facilities, including manufacturing plants, refineries and regional district heating plants reduce operating costs by implementing a Cat® CHP, or cogeneration, system using pipeline natural gas as a fuel source. Cat gas generator sets can simultaneously provide electricity for electrical loads and heat energy for a facility's thermal requirements. While separate grid electricity and natural gas boilers provide less than 50 percent efficiency, Cat CHP projects offer:
- Up to 90 percent energy efficiency
- Decreased energy costs versus separate heat and electrical generation systems
- Reduced emissions versus separate systems
- Local electric grid is unreliable
- Natural gas is an inexpensive alternative to grid electricity
- Generators can be applied during peak times of day to avoid high electrical utility demand charges (also known as peak shaving)
How CHP Works
Any Cat natural gas-fueled engine can be configured for applications involving heat recovery. The engine drives a Cat generator to produce electricity, while jacket water and/or exhaust cooling circuits are fed through heat exchangers to transfer the waste heat from the engine to a building's hot water or steam circuit. That hot water or steam can then be effectively used for facility processes or HVAC requirements, including facility air cooling, when implementing an absorption or adsorption chiller.
The total energy cost savings of such systems can more than offset the total owning and operating costs, delivering a payback in as little as two to three years, depending on local energy pricing and policies.
How Distributed Generation Works
When power is produced locally without heat recovery from the engine, radiators provide proper cooling to the engine jacket water, engine oil and aftercooler water circuits. Cat paralleling switchgear is employed to allow generators to operate with one another or in conjunction with a local utility power source.
In areas lacking major infrastructure, the impact of DG can be significant. It creates an oasis of power needed to support economic growth and improve quality of life for residents. In other instances, the impact of DG is less dramatic, as it is integrated into the local utility to provide seamless service to customers.