As another heating season approaches, the Office of Physical Plant and Facilities would like to update you on the status of the combined heat-and-power plant (CHP) in the Gateway Center. We are happy to report that this will be the plant’s first full heating season in operation!
About the CHP:
The CHP comprises two natural gas boilers for heat, a wood pellet boiler for heat, three natural gas-fired micro-turbines for electricity generation, a heat-recovery boiler for heat (recovers waste heat from the micro-turbines), and a high-pressure steam generator for electricity production (converts high-pressure steam to electricity for campus use and low-pressure steam for heating). The CHP’s maximum steam production at full capacity is approximately 19,000 pounds per hour of steam, which equates to approximately 60 percent of the campus annual steam now purchased from Syracuse University. The CHP can provide steam to Gateway, Baker, Jahn, Moon Library and a portion of Illick Hall. The CHP has the practical capacity to produce about 300 kW per hour of electricity and the potential to produce more than 400 kW per hour, when conditions are ideal. On average during these favorable conditions, the CHP can produce 9,600 kWh a day with a utilities cost avoidance of $672 for electric.
Current status of the CHP:
The CHP micro-turbine generators have been in for more than a year. A project to further automate CHP boiler controls and operations from the original design for more predictable results was completed in January 2016. The campus staff operated the CHP 24/7 from February until April using limited staffing and all the boilers (wood and natural gas) to provide heat for Jahn, Baker and Gateway. After a brief shutdown for summer maintenance, the CHP has been in operation since May, providing thermal energy for all five buildings and electricity from the micro-turbines. We will add boiler operator staff as we transition into full capacity for the upcoming heating season. The last remaining equipment to be commissioned for full operation is the steam generator. The campus needs significant steam load during cold weather to complete National Grid-required witness testing, which will ensure seamless grid connectivity. The steam generator is fully operational and we expect it to be commissioned and put into service this November.
ESF has been completely dependent on Syracuse University for the campus heating needs since the College’s inception. SU continues to provide steam to ESF facilities and provides valuable backup service for our CHP. Designing, building, commissioning and then operating a brand new CHP on this campus has been a tremendous undertaking with a significant learning curve. We realize that the learning curve will continue as CHP operators learn the nuances of the equipment and the changing demands of campus steam loads, while optimizing outputs. The staff at Physical Plant and Facilities is excited to work with our new energy manager to optimize CHP operations as we move forward toward our first full heating season. We are prepared to operate the CHP at full capacity with a full-time staff.