CHP to overcome ‘black eye’ in US

While his recent report on combined heat and power (CHP) in commercial buildings highlights the technology’s opportunities, CHP is still overcoming a ‘black eye’ in the US, Mackinnon Lawrence of Pike Research told COSPP.

Pike Research’s Combined Heat and Power for Commercial Buildings forecasts that worldwide capacity additions in this sector will double by 2022 but also examines hurdles for cogeneration.

Mackinnon Lawrence of Pike Research

In the US, the sector must overcome a tarnished image and should not bank heavily on a post-Sandy uplift, the report’s author Mackinnon Lawrence told COSPP.

While CHP ‘kept the lights on in many buildings’ during the recent hurricane, the sector still faces several challenges, he said.

‘Such events typically lead to an uptick in policies that mandate the use of emergency backup power in hospitals, for example,’ he said. ‘Nevertheless, many of the structural barriers that blunt CHP adoption remain in place – i.e. utility resistance to DG [distributed generation] technologies and interconnection challenges.’

Bloom fuel cell

In the US, along with these enduring headwinds, he sees a problem of image.

‘The main issue the industry is dealing with is one of definition… overselling of capacity and poor system performance led to the industry in the US suffering a black eye over the past decade,’ he said.

‘The industry has had to distance itself from this history. The use of “CHP” versus “cogeneration” is one such example of the shift.’

He added that a ‘better alignment of customer need and system capacity should lead to lower capital cost entry points’.

‘Industry sources in the US cite many cases in which firms have oversold capacity to customers,’ he said.

Yet Pike Research’s analysis reveals that CHP has a bright future in the commercial sector.

Lawrence expects new technology in fuel cells, microturbines and Stirling engines to help fuel growth of 10-25% over the next decade in areas such as the Asia-Pacific, Latin America, and the Middle East and Africa.

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