FEMP's CHP Screening Service Now Easier

November 1, 2002

Seeking technical assistance through FEMP's Accelerated Development and Deployment of Combined Heat and Power (ADD CHP) screening service is now easier with FEMP's new web-based data entry form. The new simplified data entry page, which replaces the previous three-page form, requires minimal input from Federal facility managers. ADD CHP staff use the data provided to complete the initial CHP screening, which helps facility managers determine if more detailed analysis is needed.

FEMP's screening assesses the potential economic viability of CHP systems at Federal installations using site-provided information about power and fuel consumption and cost. Since initiating the ADD CHP Program in August 2001, FEMP has provided nearly 100 Federal sites with screening analyses. As shown in the figure below, approximately one third of sites assessed, representing 130 megawatts of electric power capacity, showed strong CHP potential meriting further action toward project development (i.e., simple payback less than 5 years). Another one third of sites offered simple payback in less than 10 years using reasonable long-term fuel rates; these projects represent an additional 99 megawatts of capacity and also merited follow-up action.

This line graph shows the simple payback period for 96 federal CHP projects. The vertical axis depicts years for simple payback (10-year increments starting with 0 and ending with greater than 80) and the horizontal axis depicts number of projects (1 through 96).  Two values are shown: one for the historical rate and the other for the reported gas rate. For the historical rate, about 40 projects had a payback of 5 years or fewer, about 20 projects had paybacks of 10 years or fewer, and the remaining projects had paybacks of more than 80 years.  For the reported gas rate, about 25 projects had paybacks for 5 years or fewer, about 40 had paybacks of 10 years or fewer, and the remainder had paybacks of more than 10 years, up to more than 80 years.

Each site requesting a screening provides background information about their existing systems, principal type of business, and energy use and costs. In return, they receive a brief, two-page report summarizing the potential for cost and energy savings using CHP technology at their site. A preliminary screening is usually performed using limited information from the site. Sites with strong potential for cost and energy savings, commitment, and a source or partner for project funding may qualify for additional FEMP technical assistance to verify CHP potential and obtain best-value CHP projects. ADD CHP staff can consider the cost/benefit of specific CHP configurations and local regulations, incentives, and grid interconnection issues when sites have appropriations or are willing to partner with energy services companies or utilities to finance their projects.

The ADD CHP team is available to provide technical support directly to sites or through project facilitators for appropriations-funded, energy savings performance contract, utility energy service contract, or other financed projects. FEMP Regional Office representatives can help agency project teams assess their site's CHP potential and consider factors such as:

  • local air quality requirements;
  • optimal configuration choice based on qualification requirements for incentives and the details of standby tariffs;
  • parametric analyses for multiple scenarios to consider internal combustion engines, gas turbines, microturbines, and fuel cells; and
  • applying recovered waste heat as steam or hot water compared to using waste heat to produce chilled water for air conditioning.

The preliminary screening report prepared for the site includes recommendations on whether further action toward project development is warranted. Because energy prices can be volatile, the report also includes a chart illustrating how simple payback for the hypothetical CHP plant varies with changes in key parameters: level of heat use and costs of natural gas and electricity. ADD CHP staff are available to discuss the analysis should any questions arise.

A positive screening report gives agency staff evidence to present to their management to motivate further consideration of a CHP project. Screening reports also help Federal sites understand what affects CHP economics, one of the key factors being the recovery and use of waste heat from turbine or engine generators. Reports include a graph that illustrates how the simple payback period for a system decreases as the amount of waste heat effectively used by the site increases. Simple payback is calculated using current energy costs and assuming that recovered heat is used to replace purchases of boiler fuel or electricity for heating and cooling. Since this is a critical assumption, results are presented depicting payback with 100, 75, 50, 25, and 0 percent use of the recoverable waste heat.

For more information, please see FEMP's Web site at www.eere.energy.gov/femp/techassist/der_resources.html#technical. For additional information, please contact Shawn Herrera, FEMP DER Program, at 202-586-1511 or Shawn.Herrera@ee.doe.gov, or Keith Kline, ADD CHP Team Lead, at 865-574-4230 or klinekl@ornl.gov.