Public savings, private finance

Date: 4 December 2013

CHP/cogeneration installations serving the all-important public sector are once again winning awards on both side of the Atlantic. Many public sector organisations are using no-capital financing deals with private sector energy services companies to install CHP schemes as part of their efforts to meet politically-set energy and carbon saving targets.

In the US, the Environmental Protection Agency has recognized CHP installations serving two federal facilities, a Department of Defense Marine Corps Logistics Base (MCLB) in Albany, Georgia; and the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) in Washington DC, for their high operational efficiency, improvement to electricity supply reliability and reduction in carbon emissions.

Both organisations are required, under the 2007 Energy Independence and Security Act and a raft of Executive Orders to reduce the energy intensity of their buildings and to meet greenhouse gas emission targets. Both schemes were developed under energy savings performance contracts (ESPCs) which allow the federal facilities to achieve energy cost savings without paying any up-front capital costs. MCLB Albany partnered with Chevron Energy Solutions to fund and develop its CHP scheme, while the NARA scheme was developed under an ESPC with Ameresco.

The MCLB Albany uses a 1.9 MW CHP unit based on a GE Jenbacher gas engine, fuelled with landfill gas from a nearby landfill site, to supply up to 20% of the site’s electricity needs and steam for use in a re-manufacturing and repair plant at the base. The scheme saves around $1.3 million per year in energy costs. Meanwhile, the NARA uses a smaller and more conventional, 150 kW gas-fuelled, CHP system to supply power, heat and dehumidification services to the building that houses the nation’s most historic documents.

NARA has since installed a similar CHP scheme at its facility in College Park, Maryland, and plans to install yet more schemes at other sites.

Meanwhile, the London Borough of Islington and contractor Vital Energi have won the Public Sector Award from the UK CHP Association for the innovative Bunhill district heating network which, based on a 1.9 MW gas-fired CHP unit, serves over 700 council-owned homes and two leisure centres in north London. The Bunhill Energy Centre and heating network were partly funded by grants from both local and national government agencies. Ina similar pattern to the two US schemes, the Islington scheme is, according to the CHPA: ‘a powerful example of an effective public/private sector partnership.’
By Steve Hodgson, COSPP