Monthly Archives: May 2008

Reduce CO2 by Improving Performance

or… Improve Performance by Reducing CO2

As the framework for carbon cap-&-trade programs is developed, more people are starting to look for where we can reasonably hope to cut CO2 and other greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions – quickly.

The most obvious way to stop emitting GHG, is to stop burning carbon-based fuels, such as natural gas, coal and oil.   And, there are many, many demand-side conservation programs in place, which are making a significant impact on reducing the amount of energy required for many processes.  But, I think we could all agree, that very few of us, if any, are willing to turn off the lights completely to reduce GHG.  So, how else can we reduce fuel consumption? 

By reducing supply-side GHG generation.  Reduce the amount of fuel per kWh generated. 

Which is exactly what improving heat rate does for existing generation facilities.  It reduces the amount of fuel burned (and GHG produced) per kWh generated.  There is a wealth of CO2 reduction potential in our existing power generation assets in the US.

As Steve Stallard points out in his article at EnergyCentral, performance monitoring programs on one way to not only improve your plant economics – but also to reduce your CO2 emissions.

Performance monitoring programs can point out where you are losing efficiency in your power generation facility; how your operators can make small changes which improve efficiency; and what you can expect from capital improvements in terms of increased capacity, reduced heat rate and reduced GHG emissions.

Now, if we could only get the regulations adjusted, such that new capacity at existing facilities – at improved heat rates – are not “new sources”, just better sources. 

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 0.0/5 (0 votes cast)

Negawatts versus ?

Negawatts… a term attributed to Amory Lovins of the Rocky Mountain Institute… as a measure of conserved electricity.  Each MW conserved is a MW which doesn’t need to be generated is a MW of capacity that doesn’t need to be built is equal to a Negawatt. 

So, what do we call Megawatts of capacity found at a power plant due to improved efficiency of generation equipment? 

These are also Megawatts of available capacity which did not require any new plant to be built.   Some of them can be found by changing O&M procedures – so they don’t even need any funding to implement.  And, they are often accompanied by improvements in heat rate, so not only are they equivalent Negawatts, they also provide Fuel and CO2 savings for all other Megawatts produced at the power plant.

It seems to me, we should promote both the Negawatts conserved by the consumer and the Negawatts found by the generator – use less, and produce what is still used more efficiently. 

This may seem like a good way to put yourself out of business – if you’re in the power production & sales business – but, considering population is still increasing and more gadgets are being produced and purchased everyday which need energy to run, I really don’t see conservation and efficiency as leading to the downfall of the power markets. 

If anything, I can see this backfiring on the whole conservation issue.  When renewables are more prevalent, generation is ultra-efficient, and CO2 is all safely sequestered away from the atmosphere, people will no longer feel guilty about leaving their computers and TV’s on overnight.  As long as we feel we’re doing our part to conserve at the office, we can ‘reward’ ourselves with extra consumption at home – turning down the temp on the AC or sitting an extra 10 minutes in the electric massage chair.

Negawatts are starting up a new market in “White Tags” – another means of trading carbon, in the form of conserved power.  Europe already has a White Tag market, and Connecticut, Pennsylvania and Nevada have also started programs.  It will be interesting to see how this all works out.

Reference:  Getting More for Less: The Growing Role of Negawatts by Glenn Croston 

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 0.0/5 (0 votes cast)