Annual Update on Combined Heat and Power in North Carolina for 2012

North Carolina saw an active combined heat and power (CHP) market in 2012 with five projects totaling 13 megawatts (MW) of electric capacity installed in the state.   Of these projects, four are renewable biomass fueled CHP systems that are located on industrial sites and provide large amounts of process steam from recovered heat.  One example of a completed project is a biomass fueled CHP installation at a Pfizer plant in Sanford, which generates 250 kilowatts of power and 30,000 pounds per hour of steam, equivalent to approximately 8.8 megawatts of thermal energy.

The N.C. Solar Center’s Clean Power & Industrial Efficiency provided a range of technical and policy support to four of the new CHP projects during their development through its role as a University Energy Center and headquarters for the U.S. DOE Southeast Clean Energy Application Center (SE-CEAC).

Backpressure steam turbines such as this one at a NC industrial site supply onsite electric power from steam that's produced with renewable biomass

Backpressure steam turbines such as this one at a NC industrial site supply onsite electric power from steam that's produced with renewable biomass

Looking ahead to 2013 and beyond, there are at least eight CHP projects planned in North Carolina, representing 45 MW of capacity, with as much as 36 MW of that potentially fueled by renewable biomass.  This development trend is partly explained by the addition of CHP as an eligible technology for North Carolina’s 35 percent Renewable Energy Investment Tax Credit by the North Carolina General Assembly in 2011.  Another influence is activity by the state’s investor owned utilities to comply with North Carolina’s Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard by contracting for purchase of electricity and renewable energy credits (RECs) from renewable sources.

Two unique CHP projects currently under development in North Carolina will be powered by biomass and landfill gas systems; at Reventure Park and UNC Chapel Hill’s Carolina North Campus.

ReVenture Park’s 1.5 MW CHP project in Charlotte, NC received an air-quality permit from Mecklenburg County this Fall.  The CHP system is part of a plan to redevelop a 700-acre former EPA Superfund site into a clean energy fueled eco-industrial and business park.   ReVenture intends to use a technology called gasification, primarily fueled in this case by waste sawdust, that yields a clean burning organic gas as fuel for an engine generator.  ReVenture has contracted with Electricities, the state’s public power membership organization, to purchase the power output from the plant.  The recycled heat generated from the system will be used to dry other wood fuel, making it more viable for use in boilers converted to use biomass.   The CHP project will be the first of its kind in Mecklenburg County, and is expected to be complete in 2013.

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill is proposing to build a 1 MW CHP system into a central utility plant for its planned 250-acre research and mixed-used academic campus, Carolina North.  The CHP system will support the campus’s sustainability goals to use renewable energy energy and conserve water, as well as reducing air emissions that contribute to carbon footprint.  UNC-CH’s project will be fueled by methane gas from the Orange County landfill that is currently being flared, releasing heat to the atmosphere.  The landfill gas piping and CHP generator is expected to be complete in the coming year, according to Carolina North’s Annual Report on development, and will be ready to provide heat and power for the campus’s buildings as they are completed.

Growing awareness of the opportunity to invest in CHP systems for business, industry and government facilities is expected to lead to further project successes in the state.  As such, an industry group, the North Carolina CHP Initiative, has begun forming to represent CHP businesses and help potential end-users to connect with experts and find available resources.