Combined Heat and Power systems move to the
head of the class
CHP proves a good fit for school systems looking to conserve both energy and cash
While school is out for summer, there are still lessons to be learned at Windham High School in Willimantic, CT. The math and science behind an Aegis Energy, EDF Group Combined Heat and Power system is proving that CHP is a viable solution for school districts looking to conserve energy and save on fuel costs.
Combined Heat and Power (CHP), also known as cogeneration, is an efficient, clean, and reliable technology which simultaneously generates electricity and thermal energy from a single fuel source. By installing a CHP system designed to meet the thermal and electrical base loads of a facility, CHP can greatly increase the facility’s operational efficiency and decrease energy costs.
In 2008, Aegis installed two ThermoPower CHP units that collectively provide 150kw of power to the school. An analysis of the system showed the installation has provided an approximate annual savings of $119,000 for the Windham Public Schools system.
That is a simple math lesson that hasn’t gone unnoticed by Wayne Donaldson.
“It has reduced our electricity costs,” said Donaldson, the Director of Buildings and Grounds for the Windham Public Schools. “The cost of natural gas is less than electricity and that has had the largest impact.”
The Aegis system provides electricity for the high school, and also heats the Olympic-sized swimming pool.
“We use the pool year-round,” said Donaldson. “The swim team uses it for training and to a lesser degree it is used for community events.
The Aegis Energy, EDF Group CHP systems include a natural gas-fueled engine, induction generator, microprocessor control panel, protective switchgear, and heat recovery equipment. Each cogen module is enclosed in a sound attenuated cover and can be installed indoors or outdoors.
Donaldson, who came into his position after the Aegis Energy, EDF Group CHP system was already installed, admits to not being as attuned to the science of the system.
“I am learning more and more every day,” he said. “But it is a pretty hands-free system as far as we are concerned. Aegis Energy, EDF Group monitors and maintains the system.”
School systems, historically strapped for cash and often marked for harsh cuts come budget time, can also benefit from CHP through Aegis Energy, EDF Group’ Shared Savings program. The program allows clients to take advantage of energy cost savings from an Aegis Combined Heat and Power system regardless of their capital improvement budget. Aegis Energy, EDF Group is responsible for the total installation and operating costs of the system. Through the host site’s purchase of electricity, at a discount from prevailing utility rates, and purchase of heat, Aegis is able to amortize the capital cost of the equipment.
Windham High School’s CHP system is also capable of operating in the event of a grid failure, and has provided heat and electricity during the blackouts of the past few years. The school is designated as a “place of refuge” because of its ability to continue operating even during a power outage. The blackout load in this case includes heat for comfort and electricity for the cafeteria in order to feed large numbers of people in event of a utility grid failure.
Currently, Aegis Energy, EDF Group has a roster of more than 30 schools that have utilized the innovative Combined Heat and Power systems. The list of schools includes high schools like Windham High School, elementary schools like Auburn Middle School in Auburn, NY, and colleges like the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts in North Adams, MA.