Distributed generation (DG), otherwise known as distributed energy, is the production of energy at or near the point of consumption for increased efficiency. The Distributed Generation group at the Energy Resources Center focuses on three energy technologies: combined heat and power (CHP), waste to heat power (WHP), and district energy.
The ERC is the Home of the US DOE Midwest CHP Technical Assistance Partnership, which is a technical outreach program focused on providing market opportunity analysis, education and outreach, and technical assistance on Conventional CHP, Waste Heat-to-Power, and District Energy CHP technologies in the 12 state Midwest region.
The Distributed Generation Portfolio
Combined Heat and Power (CHP)
CHP, also known as cogeneration, is the concurrent production of electricity or mechanical power and useful thermal energy (heating and/or cooling) from a single source of energy. CHP is a type of distributed generation, which, unlike central station generation, is located at or near the point of consumption. Instead of purchasing electricity from a local utility and then burning fuel in a furnace or boiler to produce thermal energy, consumers use CHP to provide these energy services in one energy-efficient step. As a result, CHP improves efficiency and reduces greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. For optimal efficiency, CHP systems typically are designed and sized to meet the users’ thermal baseload demand.
District Energy (DE)
District Energy refers to generating any combination of electricity, steam, heating, or cooling at a central plant and then distributing that energy to a network of nearby buildings. As a result, individual buildings connected to the network avoid the need to install and maintain their own boilers, furnaces, chillers, or air conditioners, saving on capital and maintenance costs. Many district energy schemes use combined heat and power, recycling the thermal energy left over from electricity generation for heating or cooling. District energy is an efficient, reliable, and cost-effective option for any cluster or network of buildings. More information on District Energy is provided by the Midwest CHP TAP or the International Association of District Energy.
Waste Heat to Power (WHP)
WHP refers to capturing waste heat that an industrial site or pipeline compressor station is already emitting, and turning it into clean and renewable electricity, recycled thermal energy, or mechanical energy. This is an important resource for vastly improving industrial energy efficiency, improving the competitiveness of the U.S. industrial sector, and providing a source of pollution-free energy. Further information is provided by the Midwest CHP TAP or Industrial Efficiency Alliance (IEA) and the Heat is Power Association (HiP).