The case for cogen

A growing number of organizations are realizing the benefits of cogeneration — or combined heat and power (CHP) — to generate more efficient energy and meet their sustainability goals.

Cogeneration, or cogen for short, simultaneously generates heat and electricity in a single plant or system, instead of two separate ones. It means heat that would otherwise be wasted is used to produce additional energy benefits. As a result, cogen reduces greenhouse gas emissions, saves money and improves energy efficiency.

In provinces such as Ontario, where electricity prices are high, many organizations invest in renewable energy solutions like cogen to reduce their long-term energy costs and help lower their carbon footprint.

Upgrade and modernization of Brock’s cogen facility

Brock University in St. Catharines, Ontario has been relying on cogen to support its energy needs for decades. A few years ago, Brock realized its existing 6.4 MW cogen plant, already more than 25 years old, had reached the end of its usable life.

Technology has advanced to the point where, to remain efficient, the cogen plant needed an overhaul. The challenge however was to execute the project in stages to ensure cogeneration could largely continue while the new plant equipment was being installed. This was particularly challenging as it took place in the same footprint as the original installation and incorporated not only larger engines, but additional equipment needed to meet current Ministry of Environment (MOE) requirements.

DEEP in action

With the support of federal and provincial government funding, the university moved forward with a two-phase 8.0 MW District Energy Efficiency Project (DEEP). DEEP included replacing the old plant’s existing eight 0.8 MW engines with four larger state-of-the-art energy-efficient units (2 MW each) and two new energy efficient chillers. The chillers produce cooled air for the campus air conditioning systems.

Having been part of the original team that engineered the original cogen plant at the University 25 years ago, and bringing a portfolio of recent cogen experience, Brock University retained Ausenco to complete the two-stage upgrade The project required extensive planning and collaboration with the university and its stakeholders. The overall goal of the project was to reduce Brock’s carbon footprint and increase sustainability on campus.

Construction was completed in February 2020, providing the campus with a reliable source of electricity, cooling and heating. Through DEEP, Brock has significantly improved its energy efficiency and lowered its carbon emissions, helping the university meet its environmental sustainability targets. Results put Brock on-track for meeting sustainability goals.

The state-of-the-art new engines are roughly 14 per cent more fuel-efficient than previous units and consume roughly two million cubic metres less fuel to power the campus — the equivalent of taking 504 small passenger cars off the road.

Brock’s annual nitrogen oxide gas emissions have also been reduced substantially. The new cogeneration engines consume 14 per cent less fuel per kWh produced, and in conjunction with other operational improvements by Brock, have saved the university hundreds of thousands of dollars in utility costs each year.

We are also working on further upgrades to the project to modernize the utility interface.

Start your renewable energy journey today!

Cogeneration projects are often complex and require ingenious solutions to solve the challenges presented. With decades of experience helping organizations plan and execute cogeneration projects, we’re here to help you find the right renewable energy solutions that to meet your needs and environmental targets.

Contact Bill Laughlin today.