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Cogeneration of Power Rises As Alternative to Grid
Industry and residential facilities can benefit from off-the-grid energy generation.
Cogeneration uses waste heat to generate power
Cogeneration is a method of using waste heat to generate power, and it has enormous potential.
Power plants, factories and refineries vent steam and hot gases through smokestacks. All that wasted heat is wasted energy. By putting a recovery device in the stack and using the steam to drive a turbine, one can generate electricity to send back into the factory or to the power grid. A 2005 Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory study of 16 major industries found enough waste heat to generate 96,000 megawatts of power, which is nearly a fifth of nationwide electricity demand. Another method of cogeneration is to build a mini-plant, usually fueled by natural gas, to power large industrial or commercial properties; a single flame generates electricity and heats the buildings while cutting out transmission costs. Both methods dramatically reduce power consumption and thus emissions.
Cogeneration of energy faces hurdles with utilities
Cogeneration is attracting increasing notice, but it still faces high hurdles. Utilities see the entrepreneurs who build cogeneration plants as competitors and often structure their rates to nullify savings for companies that recycle power. Further, in some states it's illegal for anyone other than a utility to sell electricity. The House energy bill rightly improves access to the power grid for cogeneration facilities and sets up a loan fund to encourage recycled energy in public buildings, but more should be done, such as creation of an investment tax credit for cogeneration plants.
SOURCE: LA Times -- read the full article about simple ways to save energy, your budget and the planet.
Edited by Carolyn Allen