Natural Gas Sets Off a Distributed-Energy Boom  

Posted by Big Gav in , ,

IEEE Spectrum has an article on cogeneration and other forms of distributed energy generation - Natural Gas Sets Off a Distributed-Energy Boom.

Rooftop solar has long been the poster child of distributed energy, but experts say the boom in the natural gas supply and memories of large-scale outages are also playing a big role in moving electricity generation out of the hands of big utilities.

Different gas-fueled technologies—fuel cells, microturbines, reciprocating engines, and turbines—are now competing for a spot in the basements of businesses. “People are genuinely waking up to their options,” says Kerry-Ann Adamson, research director at Navigant Research. “Distributed-generation technology can be better than the current option of centralized power on the grid.”

Depending on local electricity prices and government incentives, natural gas–powered distributed energy can be less expensive than grid power over the lifetime of the equipment. This is most often true if it’s a combined heat and power unit—also called a cogeneration unit—in which the heat from electricity generation is captured as hot water or steam. There can be environmental benefits as well: Many of these technologies can run on gas from landfills or biomass digesters. When both heat and electricity are used, system efficiency can top 80 percent.

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