Sunday, March 29, 2009

Cogeneration Increases Again

Some of my correspondents bitterly cling to the idea that nuclear-generated power is cheaper by far than any other form of generation.  They cannot believe, nor understand, that cogeneration is vastly superior.   Below is an excerpt from a March 23, 2009, news release showing that cogeneration continues as an economically viable and superior technology.  

"ANTWERP, Belgium--ExxonMobil today inaugurated its newest high efficiency cogeneration plant at its Antwerp refinery in Belgium. Cogeneration is the simultaneous production of electricity and useful heat or steam used for industrial processes. In addition to generating 125 megawatts, the new plant will reduce Belgium's carbon dioxide emissions by approximately 200,000 tonnes per year, the equivalent of removing about 90,000 cars from Europe’s roads.

"Energy efficiency is one of the most effective tools available for reducing greenhouse gas emissions," said Sherman Glass, president of ExxonMobil Refining & Supply. "Since 2004, ExxonMobil has invested in over 1,500 megawatts of cogeneration capacity in five countries."

With the inauguration of the Antwerp facility, ExxonMobil now has interests in about 4,600 megawatts of cogeneration capacity in about 100 individual installations at more than 30 sites around the world. This is enough capacity to supply the needs of more than 5 million homes in Europe.

"This new cogeneration plant allows for the efficient generation of electricity to run pumps, compressors and other equipment in our facilities, while at the same time, producing additional steam that is needed in processes that transform crude oil into refined products," said Gilbert Asselman, manager of the Antwerp refinery.

"With the latest technology, cogeneration is significantly more efficient than traditional methods of producing steam and power separately. This results in lower operating costs and significantly less greenhouse gas emissions."

Additional new facilities under construction in Singapore and China will increase ExxonMobil's cogeneration capacity to more than 5,000 megawatts in the next three years."

In fact, as more unsubsidized nuclear power plants are built, grid power prices go up and up.  The incentives for industry to  install cogeneration also increases.   As not many recognize, the steam from a cogeneration plant need not be used for heating or reboiling or stripping uses, although those are the most common.  When the grid power prices are sufficiently high, steam is used to drive turbines, rather than electric power to energize a motor.   This is commonly found in complex chemical plants and refineries, where a pump driven by a motor has a spare pump driven by a turbine.  The operator can easily switch between the two, depending on whether electric power or steam is more financially attractive.  

Further, the smaller-scale devices that are suitable for hotels, apartment houses, commercial buildings, and even individual homes become much more attractive as the costs of grid power increase.  

ExxonMobil just built a cogeneration plant in Antwerp, Belgium.   Europe is famous for having much of its power generated by nuclear plants, yet apparently the power is not so cheap that cogeneration is uneconomic.  

Roger E. Sowell, Esq. 

Contact Mr. Sowell at his legal website.

1 comment:

miggs said...

Great post. The fantasy of nuclear as our ticket out, especially compared to CHP, keeps enduring. I'm associated with Recycled Energy Development, a leading CHP company, and the potential there is just astronomical. EPA and DOE estimates suggest that waste energy recycling (of which CHP is the biggest form) could cut U.S. greenhouse gas emissions by 20%. That's as much as if we took every passenger vehicle off the road. Meanwhile, costs would drop due to increased efficiency. Yet we keep hearing this nuclear meme...