Although we have been discussing the topic of energy in our class for about three weeks now, it is funny that we have not discussed one of the best models for energy efficiency, one that is right in our backyard. The Hal C. Weaver Power Plant is a special facility that utilizes the combined production in both heat and power.
In a normal gas fired or coal fired power plant, much of the heat generated from the gas turbine is expelled to the environment and wasted. Combined heat and power, or cogeneration, seeks to remedy this condition by utilizing the heat that is normally wasted to produce useful steam or to directly provide heat for nearby buildings.
With cogeneration, we can achieve thermodynamic efficiencies of up to 90 percent, and when compared to thermodynamic efficiencies of traditional gas turbine power plants of 33 percent, we can see the impressive benefit of this form of power plant. One of the drawbacks to cogeneration power is that the buildings that use the heat must be located nearby to the plant. This creates sort of a condition that most of these cogeneration power plants be decentralized with respect to the main electrical grid. However, in the future, with much more money being invested into the field of energy, we can see an increase of capital into cogeneration power and the overall decentralization of electricity in order to see these increased efficiencies. And we have a great case study for which to develop these plants within arms reach.