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Distributed & renewable energy

Biogas Recovery

Efficiency is all about getting the most output from the least input. One of the best ways to do this is to look at waste and find cost-effective ways of putting it to use. Aside from sending organic material straight to the landfill, the status quo has been to throw it into a compost bin and let the waste decompose into fertilizer. This involves both aerobic (with oxygen) and anaerobic (without oxygen) digestion, in which microorganisms break down biodegradable material. Anaerobic digestion (Figure 1) produces biogas, which is primarily methane and carbon dioxide along with other trace …

Reciprocating Engine Generators

Reciprocating engines (Figure 1) drive the vast majority of on-site generation. They are mass-produced by many manufacturers around the world, cost less than other distributed generation (DG) technologies, and have a fully developed sales, maintenance, and repair infrastructure. All of these factors, combined with market familiarity, decreasing exhaust emissions, extended service intervals, and long engine life, continue to make reciprocating engines the most commonly used DG technology. Figure 1: Reciprocating engines Reciprocating engines have been the main option for distributed gen…

Photovoltaics

Producing electricity with on-site photovoltaic (PV) systems can have several benefits, including buffering your business from volatile energy costs, lightening your carbon footprint, and demonstrating corporate responsibility. Although PV systems represent a significant asset investment, declining module prices have begun to make the cost of electricity competitive with conventional power in a growing number of areas. In 2014, the installed cost of a midsize commercial-scale PV array, including inverters and balance-of-system (BoS) hardware, was $2.25 per watt of output power. This translates…

DG Technologies: Microturbines, Fuel Cells, and Stirling Engines

Distributed generation (DG) promises many potential benefits, including peak shaving, price hedging, fuel switching, improved power quality and reliability, increased efficiency, and improved environmental performance. A number of technologies provide DG capabilities in sizes ranging from a few kilowatts (kW) to 10 megawatts (MW) or more. This topic covers some of the more common options: microturbines, fuel cells, and Stirling engines. We offer more in-depth information on Reciprocating Engine Generators elsewhere. What Are the Options? The major small-scale DG options are summarized in …

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