Building cooling, heating and power generation (BCHP) is important for the sustainable energy strategy in China because of its contribution to energy conservation and the reduction of CO2 emissions. The number of BCHP or small-scaled combined cooling, heating and power generation systems that have been put to use or are in the course of construction is steadily increasing in China. However, in many cases the performance of BCHP systems is not good enough, i.e., the average real exergetic efficiency of whole system is much lower than expected and the economic effect is not satisfactory. This is a problem that perplexes designers and plant owners and need be investigated so as to increase the knowledge of optimizing the operation of BCHP systems. In this paper the performance of a typical BCHP system is investigated using thermodynamic and thermoeconomic analyses based on the simulating results of off-design operation and the solution of performance optimization of the system. With the help of a great number of real running data of the system and the master data supplied by manufacturers, a model of the system operation is developed to simulate the whole domain of operation on off-design conditions. In order to shorten computer time the operation domain is described by a set of functions obtained by curve fitting using the numerical data from the simulation. Two models of optimization, of which the objective functions are the exergetic efficiency and gross benefit of the whole BCHP system separately, are established in virtue of these fitted functions. The simulation of off-design operation and the solution of the optimization problems supply a great number of useful data that form various graphs, which are to be the references to energy conservation and economic operation of the systems. The investigation indicates that there are some differences between the optimum working conditions obtained by the two optimization models, whereas it is inevitable that the system runs with some lower efficiency and less gross benefit when working at high cooling or heating load factors. By analyzing the data some significant conclusions are obtained, which will be helpful for the BCHP industry in China.

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