Cogeneration is not new. Large industrial facilities have burned natural gas to generate electricity and have recovered the heat from the engine jacket and exhaust to serve as process and space heat without burning additional fuel. In fact if you examine the large gap between natural gas costs versus electrical prices in the United States there is strong incentive to generate your own power if the heat can help offset the costs.
We see the economics are very positive with capital investment paybacks on the order of 10,000 hours. We also see higher system reliability as disasters interrupting the electrical grid are of no consequence if you have your own electrical supply. The time has come to start applying this technology to systems smaller than 50 kilowatts or micro installations. Throwing away 60 percent of the fuel value is irresponsible in light of escalating energy costs. To buy electricity and then buy natural gas for heat is irrational when the same gas can also supply the electrical needs.
Whats worse the purchased electrical energy represents massive thermal pollution and CO2 pollution because the discarded heat at a central electrical generation facility could save purchasing thousands of cubic feet of natural gas to heat your facility.
We must work smarter not harder if we are to maintain our western life style. If we are wasteful and can’t afford the energy to heat and cool all of us are losers. Sanitary conditions are dependent on a ready supply of energy to operate refrigeration equipment to distribute perishables frozen. Failure of this distribution system would result in death or sickness of countless citizens not to mention the economic loss of what is obviously spoiled. Medicines demand low temperature storage if they are to do their job of saving lives and preserving health.
Are we going to throw all of this away because we are too lazy to structure our processes so that the products are of use to us? And what of unwarranted fuel consumption? Oxygen levels over the last century have fallen 1 percent due to man;s activities. This 1 percent change of the atmosphere represents a 5 percent change in the quantity of oxygen available in the atmosphere. 2 more percent drop and we will see reduced birth weights and increased infant mortality. We will see increased suffering and deaths in persons with impaired lung function. All of us will experience lower energy levels and poorer health.
I would think common sense demands we increase the efficiency of how we do things before humanity commits suicide slowly choking on its breath.