This guide provides general information on implementing onsite distributed generation systems in laboratory environments. Specific technology applications, general performance information, and cost data are provided to educate and encourage laboratory energy managers to consider onsite power generation or combined heat and power (CHP) systems for their facilities. After conducting an initial screening, energy managers are encouraged to conduct a detailed feasibility study with actual cost and performance data for technologies that look promising.

Onsite distributed generation systems are small, modular, decentralized, grid-connected, or off-grid energy systems. These systems are located at or near the place where the energy is used. These systems are also known as distributed energy or distributed power systems. DG technologies are generally considered those that produce less than 20 megawatts (MW) of power.

A number of technologies can be applied as effective onsite DG systems, including: (1) Diesel, natural gas, and dual-fuel reciprocating engines; (2) Combustion turbines and steam turbines; (3) Fuel cells; (4) Biomass heating; (5) Biomass combined heat and power; (6) Photovoltaics; and (7) Wind turbines. These systems can provide a number of potential benefits to an individual laboratory facility or campus, including: (1) High-quality, reliable, and potentially dispatchable power; (2) Low-cost energy and long-term utility cost assurance, especially where electricity and/or fuel costs are high; (3) Significantly reduced greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Typical CHP plants reduce onsite GHG by 40 to 60 percent; (4) Peak demand shaving where demand costs are high; (5) CHP where thermal energy can be used in addition to electricity; (6) The ability to meet standby power needs, especially where utility-supplied power is interrupted frequently or for long periods and where standby power is required for safety or emergencies; and (7) Use for standalone or off-grid systems where extending the grid is too expensive or impractical. Because they are installed close to the load, DG systems avoid some of the disadvantages of large, central power plants, such as transmission and distribution losses over long electric lines....(read more...)