Cogeneration: unveiling pros and cons

Cogeneration versus renewable energy plants

Cogeneration means producing two or more forms of energy from a single energy source. Although they present many positive aspects, such as lower levels of consumption and lower emissions of pollutants, cogeneration plants raise some tricky aspects, too.

CHP plants differ from renewable power plants in many aspects.

First difference: as opposed to renewable energy plants, cogeneration plants are not standardized. CHP plants derive from traditional systems which are independently engineered, thus resulting in different installations implemented inside the same plant. This heterogeneity translates into less standardization, consequently monitoring systems are more difficult to integrate.

Second difference: renewable energy sources are variable and are hardly predictable, nevertheless they are controllable through adequate predicting systems, i.e. for wind speed or solar radiation intensity forecasting. Cogeneration plants are not based on renewable energy, consequently predictive systems are not necessary because of the homogeneity of the power source.

Third difference: cogeneration sources are predictable, yet, they constitute complex systems since they are not standardized. In the case of CHP, monitoring is not addressed to measuring and forecasting natural sources of energy, rather to check components degeneration and/or malfunctions.

As a result, a monitoring software’s hardest difficulty is to adapt to the vast heterogeneity of cogeneration plants and to level out different sources in an easily intelligible platform.

 Intelligent Remote Operation Center

Energy Studio Pro®: from heterogeneity to uniformity

Traditionally, BaxEnergy has been successful in developing a layer of uniformity over the heterogeneity of different wind, solar and hydro power plants, and is expanding its expertise in the field of cogeneration.

For cogeneration plants the issue of uniformity is even deeper: not only energy sources are different, it’s every single plant to be different from the other. Thus, over a portfolio of plants, each system has a monitoring software of its own, uncoupled from the other systems inside the same plant. Consequently, operators do not have access to a platform which allows them to check KPIs or to a global intuitive monitoring tool which indicates the production level of every system in the plant to track down faults and dysfunctions.

Data in cogeneration plants are distributed in a number of different structures, each of them in a different IT system. Thanks to Energy Studio Pro®, operators can get a report or display a dashboard which gathers big data to give back a complete production overview in the most suitable and intelligent way, thus turning multiformity into value.

Another advantage witnessed by Energy Studio Pro® users consists in the fact that BaxEnergy’s turn-key solution collects data coming from cogeneration plants and allows for both historical and comparative analysis. This process, which is nowadays common for renewable energy plants, is still quite uncommon for a cogeneration plant software.

Perfect timing is value: how to improve cogeneration plants performances

Energy Studio Pro® provides custom alarms which are displayed in a single format for the entire portfolio. Therefore, instead of facing different types of alarms coming from different plants, a single operator can supervise the overarching portfolio just by checking a single monitor which shows the overall active alarms, or he can receive notifications through emails or texts. This translates into reactive maintenance: if a component fails or a fault occurs, operators can act instantly. Energy Studio Pro® foresees and tracks down failures and consequently minimizes the reaction time, thus enhancing the overall production.