A new CHP system designed to cut a hospital’s emissions in half and run at 80% efficiency is being touted by the Gov., even when it is gas powered.
Energy efficiency is a constantly moving goal that we are always aiming to hit. New technologies are always evolving to stretch a kilowatt a bit further or to do just do more with less. The natural gas industry has been a head of this for years with new technologies to revitalize formerly dead wells or in a recent case study, being used to save a hospital half a million dollars per year.
Peninsula Regional Medical Center, PRMC, in Eastern Maryland just flipped the switch on a recently installed CHP, Combined Heat and Power, a system that is expected to generate 26 million kilowatt hours of clean electricity that is projected to save $415,086 in annual electrical costs.
For those who do not know what a CHP system is, here is a “Barney-Style” over view. Just like many other natural gas-fired power plants, the CHP consists of a burner spinning a turbine and generator to create electricity. The uniqueness of the CHP system is that there is a heat recovery unit to capitalize on the lost heat from the turbine. The heat recovery unit then converts the heat to steam or hot water that then heats the facility. This two-in-one system is highly efficient by reusing heat that would otherwise be lost.
Traditional power plants only operate at 33% combined efficiency. In PRMC’s case, the system can operate at levels of as high 80%, saving the hospital an additional $324,705 in annual natural gas cost savings, while reducing their carbon footprint more than 50%.This $6 million dollar project was primarily paid for by grants including from Potomac Electric Power Company (PEPCO), as well as the $494,320 grant from the Maryland Energy Administration (MEA), with a payback in just over seven years.
The MEA has set aside $5.5 million for the CHP program. Touting this new natural gas-fired power and heating system is no other than Maryland’s Governor Larry Hogan. While earlier this year the Governor buckled under the political pressure of anti’s by outlawing fracking, now he is standing right next to PRMC President and CEO Dr. Peggy Naleppa, flipping on the switch that burns fracked natural gas while cutting the Eastern Shore’s largest hospital’s carbon in half.
Maryland is a relatively small end-consumption user of natural gas as a whole, but no doubt about it, we are involved in many ways with the stuff. Ironically, for example, as one of the only states to outright ban fracking by law, we are home to the America’s second LNG export facility, we have several new natural gas-fired power plants under construction, and now we are actively funding programs like CHP to even further drive home the fact natural gas is clean.
The NRDC, a delusional group to be polite, just released a post on their blog about the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, RGGI. It is a typical political diatribe aimed at our President’s decision to walk away from the Paris Climate Accord, but one thing stood out; Maryland is one of nine states involved with this RGGI business. The RGGI plan is to reduce power plant emissions by 30% by 2030. The post states the RGGI will save on energy bills and create jobs, but the study to which they link, the Acadia Center’s Measuring Success report, clearly states the benefits of natural gas.
“Electric generation from fossil fuels is increasingly shifting to lower-priced natural gas. The relative prices of natural gas, residual fuel (oil), and coal in the RGGI region determine which fuels are used to generate power. Since 2008, when RGGI took effect, generation has decreased dramatically from residual fuel (-58%) and coal (- 71%), while natural gas generation increased (+24%). This fuel switching from coal and oil to natural gas has had a significant impact on emissions, as natural gas emits 44% less carbon than coal and 33% less carbon than fuel oil and natural gas plants are more efficient.”
Natural gas is the only way that a state such as Maryland is going to cut emissions further than they already are trending. If anything, this reinforces the fact Gov. Hogan made a huge and hypocritical mistake in banning fracking, because without natural gas, this whole clean energy and climate change agenda would be all for naught.