EPA Praises Colleges’ Clean Energy Systems

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has awarded three colleges the Energy Star Combined Heat and Power (CHP) award. The CHP award recognizes highly efficient systems that produce electricity and useful thermal energy from a single energy source and reduce emissions and use by at least 5% less fuel than comparable, separate generators. The three winners so far in 2011 are the University of Massachusetts Amherst, Cornell University, and National Institutes of Health.

Two of the projects employ solar technology, and the other uses natural gas. The three projects have systems that operate at 76% to 79% efficiency, a substantial improvement over similar, separate systems that operate at less than 50% efficiency. The combined carbon emission offsets of the three campus projects will equal 29,000 less cars on the road each year.

ButteCollege_Solar

image via Butte College

 

Cornell University added a CHP system in 2009 by installing two solar combustion turbine/generators. The turbine/generators produce 37 megawatts of energy, and will contribute to the retirement of two coal boilers later this year. The school has set a goal to reduce CO2 emissions by at least 20% compared to 1990 levels by 2012.

The University of Massachusetts Amherst began operating a 14 megawatt CHP system in 2008 that is comprised of a 10 megawatt solar combustion turbine and a 4 megawatt steam turbine. Like at Cornell, the system has contributed to the retirement of the school’s coal boilers. Since 2004, the university has reduced overall energy consumption by 21%. The National Institutes of Health, meanwhile, began operating a natural gas CHP system in 2002 at the main campus in Bethesda, Maryland. The system can produce 23 megawatts of energy and uses approximately 31% less fuel than a comparable system.

Aaron Colter is a freelance writer and marketing consultant in Portland, Oregon. A graduate of Purdue University, he has worked for the NCAA, Dark Horse Comics, Willamette Week, AOL, The Huffington Post, Top Shelf Productions, DigitalTrends, theMIX agency, SuicideGirls, EarthTechling, d'Errico Studios and others. He is also the co-founder of BananaStandMedia.com, a free record label, recording studio, and distribution service for independent musicians.