While about 80 percent of today’s
installed CHP capacity is at industrial sites, Hampson says utilities, which
historically have not been fans of CHP,
are showing more interest in becoming
involved in new CHP projects.
“They look at it as one of their cus-
tomers saying they don’t need them
anymore,” said Hampson. “Nobody
wants to lose a customer, but we’re
seeing a lot of utilities now thinking
instead of having an industrial site in
their territory doing CHP on their own,
if the utility can partner with them and
be involved in that installation, how do
they get value out of it?”
William Gallagher, GRE portfolio
project manager, says the partnerships
between Spiritwood Station and its two
steam clients “are probably the most
unique aspect of this particular CHP
Gallagher says the idea for Spirit-
wood arose in the early 2000s when
GRE’s electrical load was growing by
about 5 percent a year and the cooper-
ative was looking for opportunities to
develop new power stations. GRE was
approached by the North Dakota gover-
nor’s office about an idea to locate one
of the new power stations near a large
in a beneficial way, either at or near the
facility, can achieve around 75-percent
“If you think about it, if (CHP) is
twice as efficient, it also puts half of the
carbon into the atmosphere, half of the
pollutants into the atmosphere, that’s
beneficial for everybody,” said Friedel.
In October, the U.S. Environmental
Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan
was published in the Federal Register.
It calls for a 32-percent reduction in
carbon dioxide emissions from 2005
levels by 2030.
“Now that we’re talking about environmental issues, more and more related to energy, (CHP) is the natural next
step to minimize the environmental
footprint for the power industry,” said
One of the nation’s newest CHP projects, fully operational since November
2014, is Jamestown, North Dakota’s
Spiritwood Station, which generates
electricity for homes and businesses.
The steam byproduct is then used by the
nearby Cargill Malt and Dakota Spirit
Spiritwood, owned by the cooperative Great River Energy (GRE), is
capable of reaching up to 65-percent
efficiency by taking advantage of the
energy in steam.
Spiritwood’s fuel source is lignite,
which is dried and refined at GRE’s Coal
Creek Station near Underwood, North
Dakota. The resulting product – Dry-Fine™ lignite – boasts a higher BTU value per pound, permitting the use of less
fuel during generation. Additionally,
refining lignite removes higher density
products that contain more sulfur and
mercury, further reducing emissions.
Spiritwood uses a type of coal as its
fuel source but CHP systems boast fuel
diversity, using oil, biomass, wood and
landfill gases. According to ICF Interna-
tional, about 70 percent of CHP in the
U. S. is fueled by natural gas.
Hampson, who has studied CHP
trends for more than a decade, says she’s
seen CHP fall in and out of favor over
the years, and while CHP’s growth has
been dependent on the broader energy
market gas prices have played a huge
“(CHP) tends to react to a lot of the
drivers and things like when we saw the
recession around 2008,” said Hampson.
“It corresponded with the time when we
saw the high, volatile natural gas prices.
It was a little bit harder to have on-site
energy and things like CHP because
people were worried about really vola-
tile and really high prices on gas.”
The price of gas now, however, is
forecasted to remain below $5 through
2025, according to Black & Veatch. That
in addition to end users becoming more
focused on distributed generation alto-
gether accounts for at least part of the
“new” CHP trend, says Hampson.
ICF International maintains a data-base of all existing CHP systems across
the U.S. and also tracks announcements
and sites under development.
Spiritwood Station, which uses lignite as a fuel source,
is capable of reaching up to 65-percent efficiency by
harnessing the energy in steam. Photo courtesy: Great