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Combined heat and power: Generating sustainable economic & community benefits

Presented by Don Seguin
in Energy, Technology

Relied upon by the community for recreational activities year round, the electricity, heating, and cooling energy requirements for the Tillsonburg Community Centre (TCC) are substantial and constant – with the added imperative to remain operating during power outages.

To address these multiple criteria, the Town of Tillsonburg’s Facilities Management team combined heat and power (CHP) micro-turbine technology to provide the optimum reliable, cost-effective, and environmentally responsible solution to their needs.¹ CHP, also known as co-generation, is an integrated system that concurrently generates electricity and produces heat. TCC uses the electricity to power critical parts of the building, and the heat is used for pool and building space heating and domestic hot water requirements.

Producing electricity and recovering heat from the exhaust is efficient and reduces TCC’s overall energy requirements and most importantly allows the building to continue to operate during a power outage or extreme weather event. The selected micro-turbine technology supports a sustainable design that does not require an exhaust after treatment system.

Transformative Incrementalism: A journey to sustainability

“Our Facility Management team is always looking for more innovative, efficient, and cost-effective ways to service our community. This solution is the smarter, more resilient, sustainable, and reliable choice for our needs,” said Rick Cox, Director of Recreation, Culture and Parks, Town of Tillsonburg. “The reasonable payback period, total system efficiency, and minimal downtime for maintenance were benefits that immediately captured our attention. With the flexibility micro-turbines offer, the Town of Tillsonburg is able to maximize cost savings while providing resiliency for the facility.”

The Capstone Turbine CHP units have offset much of the heat load for the site, with the boilers now rarely in use. The boiler units are only used to cover heating requirements above the heat output from the micro-turbines, significantly extending their lifetime.

The system is able to seamlessly transfer to backup mode in less than 10 seconds, allowing the facility to be the lifeline of the community in the event of a major natural disaster. In addition to serving as a backup generator, the CHP solution allows the municipality to generate electricity onsite at a lower rate than buying electricity from the grid. Since installation, the facility has reduced its demand from the electric utility by approximately 60 percent.

Offering the best-suited technology for this application, the new micro-turbines have only one moving part in each machine, yielding minimal maintenance requirements, lower operating costs, and higher operating uptime. With this modular design approach, TCC benefits from system redundancy, allowing two units to remain operating while the third is being serviced. The small footprint, and clean and quiet operation of the micro-turbines provide the flexibility for retrofitting into existing site space, without the often added expense of major building renovations. This not only reduces installation costs, but increases siting options as well.

“We engaged Whitby Hydro Energy Services Corporation to handle the CHP component of our project from beginning to end. Their combined experience working with municipalities and recreation centres was invaluable in ensuring we leveraged all the benefits of the system and received incentives for the project. We wouldn’t hesitate to recommend them for their professionalism, expertise, and dedication to service,” added Rick Cox.

1 The town worked with I.B. Storey Inc., a specialized engineering firm (the project developers) in conjunction with Whitby Hydro Energy Services Corporation (WHESC) and their business partner, Vergent Power Solutions, as the integration specialists for this project.

as published in Municipal World, March 2019

Municipal World Insider and Executive Members: You might also be interested in Dianne Saxe’s article: Municipalities on the front lines of climate change.  Note that you can now access the complete collection of past articles (and more) from your membership dashboard.

Don Seguin leads the Combined Heat and Power business at Whitby Hydro Energy Services Corporation. Responsible for the turnkey delivery of projects and maintenance services for micro-turbines in Ontario, Don has successfully installed numerous projects for municipal and commercial clients to improve their bottom line.

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