According to new research from the Georgia Tech’s School of Public Policy, the state of Georgia could drastically reduce greenhouse gas emissions while also producing new jobs and a healthier public if more of the energy-intensive commercial and industries buildings used combined heat and power (CHP).
The report, published in the journal Applied Energy and available digitally now and in publication on December 15, concludes that CHP (or cogeneration) might lower Georgia’s carbon impact while also creating green jobs. According to data from the US Energy Information Administration, Georgia ranks 8th in total net energy generation and 11th in total carbon dioxide emissions among all 50 states.
“There is a huge possibility for CHP to save enterprises money and improve their competitiveness while also decreasing air pollution, creating jobs, and improving public health,” said Marilyn Brown, who works as Regents and Brook Byers Professor of the Sustainable Systems at the Georgia Tech’s School of Public Policy.
Environmental, economic, and public health benefits
According to the study, Georgia could cut emissions by 13% by adding CHP plants to the 9,374 locations that are appropriate for cogeneration. Adding CHP to merely 34 of the Georgia’s industrial facilities, each having a capacity of 25 megawatts of power, may result in a 2% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. Using modeling methods developed by the study authors, the authors estimate that this “achievable” degree of CHP adoption might contribute 2,000 employments to the state, while complete deployment could sustain 13,000 additional jobs.
CHP systems, according to Brown, can be 85 to 90 percent efficient, compared to 45 to 60% efficiency for standard heat and power systems. CHP has benefits over renewable energy sources such as solar and wind, that only provide intermittent power.
CHP systems combine heat and cooling to produce electricity, resulting in extremely high system efficiency, cleaner air, and more economical energy. Chemical, pulp and paper, textile, and food production businesses in Georgia would benefit from CHP. CHP could also benefit large business buildings, schools, and military bases. The energy system is more stable, resilient, and efficient when both power and heat are generated onsite from a single source.
Brown said that CHP can satisfy the same needs more efficiently while utilizing less overall energy and minimizing peak demand on an area’s utility-operated power system. Furthermore, if a community’s power infrastructure goes down or is disrupted, businesses with their onsite electrical sources can continue to operate.
Calculating CHP Plant Costs and Benefits
The study looked at a database of each Georgia industrial site to see which ones had or could have a CHP system. They next determined which type of CHP system would be best for plants that did not have one. They created a model to predict the advantages and costs of each CHP system, including the cost of installing the equipment, operations & maintenance, fuel bills, and financing to see if it was a financially good investment. According to Brown, the end result was a projected “net present value” of every system, which reflected the present worth of future expenses and benefits.
Data analytics were also employed in the paper to anticipate the economic and health advantages of CHP for Georgians. According to Brown, converting plants to cogeneration could increase the state’s clean energy employment by 2,000 to 13,000 people, depending on how broadly it is adopted. As per the 11th Annual National Solar Jobs Census 2020, the state now has roughly 2,600 jobs in electric vehicle production and less than 5,000 jobs in the solar industry.