Combined heat and power fuels energy efficiency
By Brandi Cowen
Greenhouses offer opportunities to test combined heat and power as an energy conservation model and the Ontario Federation of Agriculture’s Don McCabe would like to see pilot projects demonstrating its benefits to the industry.
In a commentary piece prepared for the OFA, McCabe wrote:
There’s another source of power available in Ontario that deserves consideration by the agriculture sector. Combined heat and power, also known as cogeneration, effectively gets two uses out of one supply of fuel. Efficiencies gained through this type of combined system have the potential for fuel savings of five percent to 35 per cent, compared to when heating and power operations are separate.
The concept of combined heat and power reuses waste heat generated from natural gas, nuclear or biomass production as an additional power source. The greatest potential to adopt this system lies with mining, forestry, auto assembly, as well as some sectors of agriculture and food.
The Ontario Federation of Agriculture (OFA) is exploring the opportunities to use combined heat and power as an energy conservation model for our province. In agriculture, this system has potential benefits for greenhouses, food processing and biomass production. One of the limiting factors for a widespread combined heat and power system in agriculture is the availability of natural gas in rural Ontario. But sectors already using natural gas, like greenhouses, provide opportunities to test the practicality of this energy recovery system. OFA is currently researching how combined heat and power can be created on farms where access to electrical grid and natural gas lines is readily available. We will be discussing these opportunities, along with the overall impact combined heat and power can have on the Ontario economy, with our provincial government for their consideration.
OFA would like to see pilot projects using combined heat and power begin with greenhouses or processing clusters. These initial projects would utilize existing infrastructure to demonstrate the benefits of combined heat and power to our industry. Farmers who are able to take advantage of this new system can save on their energy bill, reduce their overall environmental footprint and possibly even sell surplus power.
Agriculture stands to be on the leading edge of using combined heat and power to address some of the province’s increasing energy needs with this sustainable green option.