What is CHP?
CHP stands for Combined Heat and Power and is also known as Cogeneration. CHP uses a single fuel source – such as natural gas, renewable natural gas or hydrogen – to generate both electricity and thermal energy for buildings with central heating, hot water, and electrical service. This technology is growing in use due to its energy efficiency and reliability benefits that contribute to a cleaner world and have the potential to lower energy bills.
Whether you need solutions for a multifamily or industrial building, CHP can benefit project budgets of all sizes, while shrinking carbon footprints for the sake of the planet.
Benefits of CHP include:
- Improves Energy Efficiency by maximizing energy utilization up to 95 percent with natural gas, with the potential to reduce overall operating costs.
- Reduces Environmental Impact by utilizing waste heat for hot water and heat applications while offloading a minimum of 50-60% of the electricity off the electric grid and contributes to your sustainability goals and LEED building certification.
- Generates Reliable Electricity with independent, underground infrastructure, keeping your operations up and running through unexpected electricity interruptions.
The results are clear: CHP is economically and environmentally beneficial for buildings across industries, uses, and scale.
For examples of how our customers benefit from natural gas and innovative new technologies, please visit our Customer Stories library.
CHP Technology Options
The waste heat generated by reciprocating engines is ideal for hot water or low-pressure steam applications, such as multifamily buildings, hospitals, hotels, schools, and nursing homes. When paired with an absorption chiller, reciprocating engines work well for year-round climate control applications in all CHP applications. A few benefits of reciprocating engines include low cost, fast startup, flexibility in operations, and an option to operate on low pressure natural gas.
Micro CHP products can generate enough heat and electricity to make a residence or a small commercial building self-sufficient. In some cases, it can generate more power than is used, thus complementing the grid where net metering is available. Micro CHP equipment is available today as engine-driven or fuel cell-based systems. Some benefits of Micro CHP include compact and light weight sizing, a low number of moving parts, and simple operations.
Steam turbines are customizable, high-production technologies that feature a dependable operating life of 45 years1. They are ideal for large industrial and commercial CHP applications with high process-related thermal requirements that are not subject to weather-related fluctuations, making energy an important part of the business.
1 Median expectancy
Natural gas combustion turbines are similar to those used in jet engines, but have lower emissions compared to other combustion generators that use conventional fuels. These CHP applications can support high-pressure steam generation and reach efficiencies as high as 80 percent, making them ideal for industrial processes or large commercial projects like a university campus.
Fueling the Future
In recent years, fuel cells have proven to be an exciting and innovative path forward for sustainability in natural gas. Put simply, fuel cells convert methane in natural gas into electricity without combustion through a chemical reaction with oxygen. The output: clean and efficient electricity that can transform your energy portfolio.
Explore just a few benefits of using fuel cells for your building:
- Clean: Fuel cells are one of the cleanest generators of electricity since they produce electricity without combustion or emissions.
- Efficient: Fuel cells use natural gas very efficiently for reduced costs, even providing higher total system efficiency than many other generation sources with the same amount of fuel input.
- Reliable: Fuel cells use no moving parts, making them quiet, durable, and less prone to mechanical issues.
- On-Site Energy: Typically, electricity must travel through power lines to get to your home, and a considerable amount of that electricity is lost along the way. But fuel cells produce electricity on-site, so you don't lose it in transmission.
Did You Know? Using fuel cells to capture methane gas and convert it to useful energy goes a long way in protecting our environment from harmful gases.
Though fuel cells are a relatively new technology, they have potential for tremendous growth in application and consumption for more efficient buildings and a cleaner world.
Micro solution, Macro results
When you power a microgrid with natural gas for your project, you optimize the environmental, efficiency, and reliability benefits that come with each.
While a microgrid operates mostly within the larger energy grid, the capability of operating independently makes it a great option for crisis prevention, cost-savings, and overall cleaner energy. And natural gas already benefits from a more resilient distribution network than electricity, making it a great match for the dependability of microgrids.
Microgrids are ideal for essential buildings like hospitals, schools, and government operations due to their controlled nature, scalable performance, and back-up capabilities. With microgrids, you can easily power a single facility or a much larger area.
A microgrid in Fort Collins, Colorado is being used as part of a larger initiative to create an entire district that produces the same amount of energy that it uses!
Natural gas is highly efficient, helping you save on energy bills while saving the environment.
These are just a few CHP incentives that can help make your project more cost-effective:
Special Washington Gas CHP Rate - D.C. only
- Low CHP gas distribution rate must use a minimum of 60,000 therms/year through onsite electric generation equipment. Customers can expect an average annual economic savings within the range of $20,000 - $220,000+ due to the low distribution rate and the onsite generation of approximately 50-80% of the required electric demand for multifamily and/or commercial customers.
Federal Incentives (D.C., Maryland, and Virginia)
- 10% Federal Tax Investment Credit (FTIC) for the total cost of the CHP system
- 100% bonus depreciation of the total CHP system cost in the first year of use
- Opportunity to receive up to $600,000 as part of the Maryland Energy Administration’s CHP Grant Program
Get the Best Rates
Across Washington Gas’ areas of service, the firm gas rates for natural gas are about one-third of the rates for electricity. In D.C., CHP firm gas rates are approximately one-fourth of firm gas rates
Cleaner Buildings for a Cleaner World
Appreciating the full benefit of natural gas use for the environment takes understanding where it comes from. Just what exactly goes into bringing energy to your building, and how does that affect our planet?
The full-fuel cycle measures energy consumption through the entire process from extraction to transportation. Take a look at how energy gets to you.
Greener from start to finish
When using natural gas, 92 percent of source energy reaches you from the start of its journey. Electricity provides just 32 percent of that usable energy since so much is lost in transportation. That means less waste and a smaller carbon footprint with natural gas.
Using energy from a diverse range of sources makes your building not only resilient against disruption, but cleaner for the environment as well. Natural gas is already an integral part of the energy mix across the mid-Atlantic. Natural gas provides 33% of the electricity to the Mid-Atlantic area. You can explore natural gas and renewables to reduce dependency and carbon emissions from the electrical grid, doing your part to move us toward a cleaner world.
“If you blend [your] portfolio to use grid electricity, CHP fueled by natural gas, and renewable energy, you put yourself in a position to have the lowest costs and lowest greenhouse gas emissions, and you have the most abundant energy at your site.”
- Julian Varo, Senior Sales Engineer, Washington Gas