Phyllis Cuttino and Philip Brennan: Turn heat into power, with efficiency – Editorial – Ohio

In Ohio, as in many other states, most power plants operate at efficiency levels of just 33 percent to 45 percent. That means as much as two-thirds of the fuel used to produce electricity is released into the atmosphere and wasted.

As consumers, it’s hard to imagine paying for 10 gallons of gas and being able to use only three. But that’s exactly what our local businesses are experiencing as they pay their utility bills. Wasted fuel (coal, natural gas, or biomass) at power plants hurts Ohio’s ratepayers and makes our manufacturers less competitive. By finding ways to deploy technologies that reduce waste and promote efficiency, we can help businesses save money on energy, achieve Ohio’s clean energy goals, and grow Ohio’s manufacturing sector, which employs more than 660,000 people.

Industrial energy-efficiency technologies, which have been used in some form for more than 100 years, can help. The easiest efficiency gain is normally the simplest as well, such as turning heat into power through various methods of “co-generation.” Waste-heat recovery, for example, uses available heat in the exhaust from existing manufacturing and power plants to produce additional power.

Another co-generation technique is combined heat and power, which captures waste heat that normally would be expelled through cooling towers to generate electricity. Using these methods, businesses can achieve energy efficiencies of 75 percent or greater.

The United States currently generates 82 gigawatts of electricity — about 8 percent of total U.S. production — from the more than 3,700 facilities using these efficient technologies. In Ohio, though, less than 2 percent of the state’s electricity — approximately 521 megawatts — is generated by about 45 businesses, hospitals and universities using industrial-efficiency systems.

via Phyllis Cuttino and Philip Brennan: Turn heat into power, with efficiency – Editorial – Ohio.

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