CHP Electric Technologies
CHP systems are integrated systems that consist of various components ranging from prime mover (heat engine), generator, and heat recovery, to electrical interconnection. CHP systems typically are identified by their prime movers or technology types, which include reciprocating engines, combustion or gas turbines, steam turbines, microturbines, and fuel cells. These prime movers are capable of consuming a variety of fuels, including natural gas, coal, oil, and alternative fuels, to produce shaft power or mechanical energy. Although mechanical energy from the prime mover is most often used to drive a generator to produce electricity, it can also be used to drive rotating equipment such as compressors, pumps, and fans. Thermal energy from the system can be used in direct process applications or indirectly to produce steam, hot water, hot air for drying, refrigeration, or chilled water for process cooling.
Reciprocating engines are by far the most numerous, but still not a majority, of the CHP prime movers. They are particularly well suited to small and medium applications, as they are cost-effective, readily available, fuel-flexible, and can achieve very high overall efficiencies. By capacity, combined cycle plants comprise just over half the CHP market. These plants typically are very large and serve industrial and utility customers.