Combined heat and power (CHP) or cogeneration systems provide both electricity and useful heat to a building. CHP systems can result in lower operational cost, primary energy consumption (PEC), and carbon dioxide emissions when compared to the standard alternative of purchasing electricity from the grid and supplying heat from a boiler. However, the potential for these benefits is closely linked to the relationship between the ratio of power to heat supplied by the CHP system and the ratio of power to heat demanded by the building. Therefore, the benefits of the CHP system also vary with the size of the prime mover.
In the model presented in this paper, the CHP system is base-loaded, providing a constant power-to-heat ratio. The power-to-heat ratio demanded by the building depends on the location and the needs of the building, which vary throughout the day and throughout the year. At times when the CHP system does not provide the electricity needed by the building, electricity is purchased from the grid, and when the CHP system does not provide the heat needed by the building, heat is generated with a supplemental boiler. Thermal storage is an option to address the building’s load variation by storing excess heat when the building needs less heat than the heat produced by the CHP system, which can then be used later when the building needs more heat than the heat produced by the CHP system.
The potential for a CHP system with thermal storage to reduce cost, PEC, and emissions is investigated, and compared with both a CHP system without thermal storage and with the standard reference case. This proposed model is evaluated for three different commercial building types in three different U.S. climate zones. The size of the power generation unit (PGU) is varied and the effect of the correspondingly smaller or larger base load on the cost, PEC, and emissions savings is analyzed. The most beneficial PGU size for a CHP system with the thermal storage option is compared with the most beneficial PGU size without the thermal storage option. The need for a supplemental boiler to provide additional heat is also examined in each case with the thermal storage option.