From toasters to computers, we all use energy every day. In fact, if you count the businesses who make the things you use or do; the energy going into making your day go smoothly is beyond measure. Here are a few of the energy generation innovations being used by businesses today:
Combined Heat and Power (CHP):
Onsite electricity generation has been a vision for energy enthusiasts for decades. With Combined Heat and Power (or CHP for short), that dream is finally a reality. CHP is basically a mini-generator housed on the same premises as the business it powers.
Whenever electricity is generated by moving parts—unlike with solar— its friction produces heat. With CHP, that heat is captured and used toward something else on-site which would require heat anyway. Maybe it’s a manufacturing process or simply heating the building during the winter. Or, perhaps the captured heat is used to warm pool water—as is the case with the Dublin Recreation Center in Central Ohio.
By using the heat byproduct from electricity generation, the actual process becomes amazingly efficient; in fact, it can be up to 90% efficient compared to an average efficiency rate of 35% when simply pulling electricity from the grid.
Waste Heat to Power (WHP):
Similar to CHP, using the waste heat from industrial processes to generate electricity can make a business far more energy efficient than simply venting that heat. Without getting too technical: all other methods of generating electricity than solar involve rotating a magnet inside a coil of wire. Using industrial steam, then, to turn a turbine allows larger businesses to make electricity onsite without spending additional energy to heat water into steam.
Waste to power—or biogas—is another cool innovation that allows businesses to generate electricity onsite. Farms and waste treatment plants are the best candidates for this method of generation, which involves processing methane that comes from rotting organic matter and manure.
Whether it comes directly from animal waste or is piped from beneath a mound of buried trash, methane is a part of the decomposition process. By using that methane as fuel for a gas-powered generator, companies adjacent to large amounts of waste can reduce their dependence on the grid while increasing their energy efficiency. Biogas also allows an otherwise environmentally-harmful byproduct to go to good use.
Surprisingly, America is a world leader in geothermal energy. Yet, despite that claim, most people don’t know about geothermal energy and how it works. Operating on the same basic principle as the other innovations we’ve mentioned, geothermal energy uses super-heated temperatures from deep in the ground to power generators. The subterranean temperatures in some parts of the country allow power plants and larger companies to produce energy with virtually no environmental impact.
Running liquid through pipes that pass through the super-heated soil allows companies access to instant hot water—or steam—for their generative purposes. Unlike other generation methods, once the pipes are laid, there is a constant supply of power for years without the need for additional energy.
With these innovations, along with things like natural gas for fleet vehicles, and demand response opportunities, businesses are becoming more energy efficient every day. Help make your neighborhood cleaner and more sustainable by encouraging local businesses to look into energy-efficient options for powering up.
Go to IGSenergy.com/your-energy-choices/ to learn more about energy efficient solutions for your home, or check out IGSgeneration.com/distributed-generation/ to learn more about energy solutions off the grid.