This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
New technologies, changing economics and the impact of fuel cells
By Paul Breeze
Distributed power generation undergoing significant change as disparate pools of capacity give way to the establishment of integrated local generation. While distributed generation can reduce network losses and improve network stability, there are still a number of barriers including network connection costs, the operation of net metering and in some cases the application of market liberalisation. Resolution of these issues and efficiency gains in conventional, advanced fuel cell and renewable technologies will eventually lead to easier and faster integration of distributed generation and significant growth in distributed generating capacity. ‘The Future of Distributed Power Generation’ is a new report published by Business Insights that examines key environmental and legislative issues and analyses the technologies, efficiency and economics of conventional fossil fuel and advanced distributed generation. This new report analyses how demand for distributed generation capacity is likely to change as concern over energy security and network stability grows.
Published: October 2007
CREATED FOR: Euromed user, Euromed Management (Marseille Site License, Unlimited Users) IP Address: 220.127.116.11 © Business Insights Limited, 2000 - 2010 Using Interactive Document Server technology from Publish Interactive
Market liberalization and the pressures of global warming have combined to increase the use of distributed generation in many parts of the world, creating significant pools of distributed capacity. However there has been little effort to integrate this into networks. The concept of distributed generation is not new. All the earliest power stations served local communities. As the use of electricity expanded these local plants were replaced by central power stations and extended transmission and distribution networks. Now the reestablishment of local generation brings the development full circle. Distributed generation today refers to small generation units which are not centrally dispatchable and which are connected to a distribution network, not a transmission network.
The modern electricity supply system is based on central power stations delivering power to a transmission system which then distributes it to distribution systems for delivery to consumers. Balancing of supply and demand is carried out at transmission system level and distribution networks operate passively. The introduction of distributed generation disrupts this scheme by feeding power into the distribution system. This has the effect of altering the flow of electricity within the network as a whole. This can cause problems for the distribution network operator, as can the spikes caused connection and disconnection of distributed generation units. Not all distributed generation is actually visible to the network operator, however. Most is hidden behind customers' meters and is thus effectively invisible. In order for both hidden and visible distributed capacity to be used to best advantage, distribution networks will need to become actively managed in the future, mimicking the operation of transmission networks. This will provide greater energy efficiency and higher stability as well as allowing the operation of virtual power plants.
2 © Business Insights Limited, 2000 - 2010
Conventional fossil-fuel based distributed generation
The most common type of distributed generation in use today relies on fossil-fuel fired generating units such as gas turbines or gas and diesel-fired piston engines. Such units are used widely for both full time and backup supply. A more recent addition to this portfolio is the microturbine, a tiny gas turbine which can be used in domestic and commercial environments. Stirling engines are also being developed for distributed generation use. All these generating units can be used in combined heat and power applications, thereby improving their energy-use efficiency and economics by up to a factor of two or more. Diesel-fuelled piston engines are the most efficient power generation units of this type but have relatively high emissions so gas or duel fuel engines are usually preferred. Gas turbines are more suitable for large distributed generation applications, particularly where there is a demand for high grade heat or steam. Microturbines are relatively new additions to the distributed generation market. They offer high efficiency for small units, are quiet and should have low maintenance demands. Stirling engines are still under development but can offer very high efficiencies and reliability.
Advanced fossil-fuel based distributed generation
Alongside the conventional fossil-fuel distributed generation technologies there is another type of unit under development, the fuel cell. This is an electrochemical device which in most cases consumes hydrogen fuel to generate electricity. The only byproducts of its operation are waste heat and water. With no ready source of hydrogen today, fuel cells generally burn hydrogen derived from natural gas. This compromises their overall efficiency. Even so the best fuel cells are still more efficient than any of the types of conventional engine used for power generation. Four types of fuel cell have been developed for stationary power generation applications, the phosphoric acid fuel cell, the proton exchange membrane fuel cell, the molten carbonate fuel cell and the solid oxide fuel cell. Of these, only the first has achieved commercial status, while the proton exchange membrane fuel cell is also being actively developed for automotive applications too. The last two fuel cells are both high temperature devices which can produce electricity with extremely high efficiency, possibly eventually exceeding 70%. However all fuel cells are expensive today.
Renewable technologies for distributed generation
Alongside fossil fuel based systems, renewable technologies are increasingly being used for distributed generation. These include solar power, wind power and small hydropower. Some marine technologies under development may also find application in the distributed generation market. All depend on a locally available resource to exploit. Solar power offers the greatest resource for exploitation both in solar thermal
3 © Business Insights Limited, 2000 - 2010
power plants that use the sun as a heat source and solar photovoltaic systems. While the former are still under development, solar photovoltaic systems are being widely promoted for rooftop deployment in countries like Japan, Germany and the US. Wind power is, meanwhile, the fastest growing of the renewable technologies with predictions of a global capacity of 160,000MW by the end of the decade. Much of this capacity is in large wind farms but small installations are also becoming cost effective. Small hydropower can provide significant generating capacity where the resource is available with a variety of off-the-shelf turbines for different types of applications. Marine technologies such as wave power and tidal stream are being developed but these are currently at the prototype stage so both costs and applicability remain to be determined.
Environmental and legislative issues
All generating technologies have some effect on the environment. Fossil-fuel based systems generate atmospheric emissions while wind turbines are visually intrusive. Such effects are common to these technologies whether they are in large generating plants or spread over a wide area as distributed generation. Distributed generation with cogeneration of heat is much more efficient than electricity generation alone using fossil, so wider use of distributed generation CHP improves overall environmental performance. Distributed generation can also bring benefits by reducing network losses and improving network stability. However there are a number of barriers to the easy introduction of distributed generation. These include the cost of connecting a system to the local network and the operation of net metering, enabling surplus electricity to be fed back into the network. At the system level capacity and network planning is usually carried out without regard to distributed generation potential, adding to the difficulty of its integration.
The economics of distributed generation
Assessing the economics of a distributed generation system usually depends on comparing the cost of electricity from a proposed system to the retail cost of electricity supplied by the grid. The latter is much higher than the cost of central generation. As a result, a wide range of distributed generation technologies can potentially provide an economical source of electricity. Cheapest of these today tend to be the fossil-fuel based systems but some renewable generation systems, particularly wind power, are competitive too. For backup supply, small piston engines are often the best option while larger gas engines or even gas turbines are often cheaper for continuous operation. Where renewable resources are available the main cost is that of installation. Energy supply is free and with modern systems maintenance costs should generally be low.
4 © Business Insights Limited, 2000 - 2010
However these are often invisible to the local network. These issues are being actively addressed in many regions of the world and will eventually lead to easier and faster integration of distributed generation. particularly in the developed countries. 5 © Business Insights Limited. encourage even more distributed generation but in practice some market regulations hinder it advance. Electricity market liberalization should.The outlook for distributed generation The economics of distributed generation have already made it popular with some consumers and pools of distributed generation capacity exist in many parts of the world. If these issues are resolved then significant growth in distributed generating capacity can be expected.2010 . 2000 . in principle.
permitting small generators to sell surplus power to the grid this trend it bound to continue. the term distributed generation has been heard more and more frequently. Installed Distributed Generation Units in US Number 6 © Business Insights Limited. Many of these technologies. Note:  The Potential Benefits of Distributed Generation and Rate-related Issues That May Impede Their Expansion. has led to an upsurge in the use of renewable forms of electricity generation.000GWh. considered one of the major contributors to global warming. in turn. in theory at least. This. a study pursuant to section 1817 of the energy policy act of 2005. US Department of Energy.2010 . Indeed many system operators give the impression of resisting its integration. Thus today many of the world's mature electricity markets already support a significant amount of distributed generation alongside the more traditional central generating plants. mini and micro hydropower and small wind installations provide a local source of electricity adding further to the distributed generation pool. February 2007. 2000 . by exposing generation to market forces. Electricity price swings in some parts of the world have further encouraged the trend. And with market rules. has led to more and more individual electricity users installing their own supply or backup systems. but uncoordinated pool of distributed generation in many regions. Yet in most cases little has been done at a system level to take advantage of this additional generating capacity.Introduction Introduction As the electric power industry comes to terms with the effects of the market liberalization of the 1990s and this century and struggles to cope with the demands placed on it by the phenomenon of global warming. For example the US has more than 12 million such units with an aggregate generating capacity of 200GW and in 2003 they generated an estimated 250. This is no coincidence. This is roughly one tenth of the total generating capacity in the US. One of the unforeseen effects of liberalization. including solar photovoltaic. Meanwhile a pressing need to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuel power plants. creating a large. has been to reduce margins and is some cases to reduce the reliability of electricity supply systems.
and to do so cheaply and reliably.Under 200kW 10kw-990kW 1MW-5MW 5. 7 © Business Insights Limited. are now beginning to recognize the value and advantages that distributed generation can bring. and the phenomena associated with reactive power. arose. This arrangement seemed to offer the most efficient and the most economical way of delivering power to a nation. particularly thermal. via a transformer. the extended supply networks familiar today started to evolve. Distribution networks then took the power from the transmission system. Governments. In both the EU and the US there are initiatives examining the implications of its greater use. Both can limit the efficiency of the network as means of delivering energy. and delivered it to local communities and industries. These large plants with their massive steam turbines appeared able to deliver all the power needed. caused by the voltage and current in the alternating supply becoming out of synchronization. The earliest electricity generators were all units that supplied power to a local community or company. The history of distributed generation Though the term distributed generation is relatively new the concept is not. enabling the supply to be sent over long distances without significant loss of voltage. These networks transmitted alternating current rather than the simpler direct current. This may lead to changes in the way the electricity supply industry is regulated in order not only to accommodate a growing proportion of distributed generation but to integrate it more fully into the supply system.2010 .1MW-15MW 15mw-30mw 12. as above.120 13. So.000 108. the electricity supply system familiar to all developed and most developing countries had become established. This is likely to lead to major changes in the way transmission and distribution systems are operated.000. However as the advantages of electricity as a source of energy began to be recognized and demand expanded. 2000 . Alongside these expanding networks the idea of central power stations developed too. by the middle of the twentieth century. however. The central stations were connected to a transmission network which transported the energy over large distances. However there were other losses.085 543 337 Source: US DOE Note:  The Potential Benefits of Distributed Generation and Rate-related Issues That May Impede Their Expansion.
This is the modern face of distributed generation. Definition of Distributed Generation Connection: Centrally Dispatchable: Maximum Generating Capacity: Source: Business Insights This broad definition encompasses micro turbines with perhaps a few kilowatts of output and large combined heat and power stations of several hundred megawatts output which export large quantities of electric power to the grid. is one. Such a supply may be a solar panel on a domestic rooftop or a large combined heat and power installation supplying an industrial park with energy. even though this is only delivered for a fraction of the day. Load factor. Where quality has become critical. this is approaching 50% as a result of the use of air-conditioning during the day.While this represents the standard means of delivering electric power today. the difference between average and peak load. It is at this point that many of the issues associated with distributed generation arise. This has increased the importance of power quality. is onerous and inefficient. there are some basic features upon which a definition can be based. It is within this context that the generating capacity which we now refer to as distributed generation must be seen. However. But now it is being superimposed on an established network designed to supply centrally-generated electricity. However this To distribution system No 50-60MW (20MW in some regions) 8 © Business Insights Limited. There are. Definition of distributed generation Unfortunately there is no universally agreed definition of distributed power generation. in addition. Meanwhile modern electronic equipment in both domestic and commercial environments is much more sensitive to power quality than the light bulbs and electric motors of the 1950s and 1960s were. This capacity is most commonly found connected on the customer's side of an electricity meter where it might be used to supply emergency power or combined heat and power with surplus electricity perhaps being exported to the grid. though gas turbines and combined cycle plants are replacing many of the coal-fired steam plants of the last century. there are reasons to question its efficacy. those who want a renewable source of electricity and prefer to install their own rather than rely on their local electricity supplier. The concept of a customized electricity supply is slowly being born. some form of on-site generation often offers a more reliable supply than that provided by the local distribution system.2010 . In California for example. In its modern incarnation distributed generation (DG) is understood to mean a source of electricity that it generated close to the point at which it is to be used. 2000 . Having to design a central system to meet peak demand.
February 2007. Note:  Conseil International des Grands Réseaux Électriques (the International Council on Large Electricity Systems). This restriction limits the size of DG installations. In some cases it is also more economical for a user to generate their own electricity than to purchase it from an electricity supplier.2010 . 2007. This report is part of the EU's Dispower project. In practice most DG units are likely to be much smaller than 60MW or 100MW. Note:  This introduces a further complication since there is no general definition of what constitutes a transmission line and what makes it a distribution line. Note:  Distributed Generation and Cogeneration Policy Roadmap for California.1). In most cases the distribution system will not even be aware of their existence. Note:  The Potential Benefits of Distributed Generation and Rate-related Issues That May Impede Their Expansion. most are likely to be found on the customer's side of the electricity meter. US Department of Energy. While some of these units will be connected directly to the distribution system. For example in the UK and Wales a 132kV line is nominally a distribution line whereas in Scotland it forms part of the transmission network. Any plant that is connected directly to the transmission system of a network is excluded. This is particularly true when electricity is expensive and fuel is cheap. (Chapter 2 discusses the dispatch of distributed generation units representing one of the key issues associated with its integration into the network. A CIGRE working group has further refined this by defining DG as units with a maximum capacity of 50-100MW that are usually connected to the distribution network and that are not centrally dispatched. Advantages of distributed generation Some of the advantages of DG have already been mentioned above. Customers with significant demand might also find it cost effective to produce their own power during 9 © Business Insights Limited. most are less than 200kW in capacity (see Table 1. Of the more than 12m in the US.' by M J N van Werven and M J J Scheepers. These include providing a user with greater security of supply than the distribution system can offer and providing power of superior quality. California Energy Commission. Note:  See 'The Changing Role of Energy Suppliers and Distribution System Operators in the Deployment of Distributed Generation in Liberalised Electricity Markets. a study pursuant to section 1817 of the energy policy act of 2005.) Meanwhile the US Department of Energy only considers units with a maximum size of 60MW and the California roadmap for distributed generation sets the upper limit at 20MW.definition can be further narrowed by restricting DG to generating units connected to the distribution system. June 2005 (ECN-C--05-048). Energy Research Centre of the Netherlands. 2000 .
All these forms of DG generate significant amounts of heat in addition to electricity so all are suitable for combined heat and power (CHP) generation. the overall distribution system load is reduced since the power utilizes only a small part of it. the amount of centrally dispatched electricity required is reduced and this can postpone the need for distribution system upgrading. 2000 . It can also aid voltage and frequency control. Such a generation 10 © Business Insights Limited.2010 . However these stability and reliability benefits depend on the type of DG and the way it which it is integrated into the distribution system. In addition. solar power and small hydropower applications as well as some newer technologies which extract energy from the ocean waves and from tidal movement. Rural power Many of the technologies used for DG are also suitable for supplying electricity to remove communities which are not connected to a grid system. additionally. These include spark ignition gas engines and diesel engines. DG capacity can both reduce peak demand and increase resilience in the case of a system disturbance or interruption. When DG is added. In some situations it might make a fault condition worse. And users who wish to use only renewable energy can do so by installing their own generating system. The other major group of DG technologies are based on renewable generation. This is an electrochemical device which burns hydrogen to generate electricity. Large amounts of DG can. gas turbines and micro turbines. Types of distributed generation The most commonly used forms of DG today are based on fossil fuel combustion. These include wind power. There may be stability and reliability benefits too where DG is integrated into the distribution system.periods of peak demand when electricity is more expensive. reduce the need for greater central generating capacity. Today that hydrogen most often comes from natural gas. Note:  This effect can be particularly significant with pV systems in regions with high air-conditioning loads since the peak output of the solar generators coincides with the peak air-conditioning demand. which reduces the overall efficiency. A more advanced. and in principle more efficient form of fuel-based DG is the fuel cell. All these advantages accrue to the individual customer who installs a DG unit. But the key question is can the system as a whole benefit too? DG units installed close to the point at which their energy is needed lead to reduced energy losses because the distance over which the energy is transmitted is reduced. Some of the more advanced types of fuel cell generate sufficient heat to be suitable for combined heat and power applications too.
Chapter 2 will be devoted to network issues. 2000 . Finally. Use of these units in CHP systems will also be discussed. looking at the major types being developed and their prospects while Chapter 5 will turn to renewable technologies. This will be followed. Particular attention will be paid to the barriers which currently limit the wider integration of DG into networks. Chapter 3 will then examine the traditional technologies for DG. This chapter will also look briefly at the concept of the virtual power plant created by the aggregation of a large number of small DG installations to provide dispatchable power. Though this is not the main subject of the report.2010 . These include examining how DG is to be integrated into a networks and how the networks themselves will need to adapt. The structure of the report While the main subject of this report is technologies for distributed generation. Chapter 4 will be devoted to fuel cells.system might be a solar photovoltaic panel supplying power to a single building or it might be a small hydropower installation providing energy to a small distribution system. Chapter 8 will assess the prospects for distributed generation in the coming years. it will be necessary to look in some detail at the issues surrounding DG too. many of the technologies discussed here are applicable for such off-grid applications too. It may often be cheaper to employ a relatively expensive technology such as solar cells than to connect a remote community to a distribution system. in Chapter 7. diesel and petrol engines and micro turbines. The environmental implications of DG will be discussed in Chapter 6 along side legislative issues. 11 © Business Insights Limited. To this end. It will include gas turbines and gas engines. The choice of system in this situation is a matter of economics and the available energy source. by a look at the economic issues raised by DG.
12 © Business Insights Limited.Network issues Introduction The power network developed during the twentieth century to deliver electric power from power stations to consumers is a hierarchical system. all the active network control is carried out at the transmission system level. over weeks and months. normally via further stepdown transformers.2010 . This is supplied by power plants contracted to the TSO which can increase or decrease their output at short notice. The balancing of the system is the job of the transmission system operator (TSO). At its heart lies the large central power stations which generate the bulk supply of electricity. The power from these central stations is delivered to a transmission system operating at high voltage and capable of transmitting power over long distances. has been maintained through power supply contracts. they may exploit the nuclear decay of uranium or they may harness one of the major rivers of the world. These plants may burn coal or natural gas. With a system of this type. 2000 . A power network of this type must always remain in balance. The various distribution networks attached to the transmission system act simply as passive conduits through which electricity is delivered. Such plants may also step in during the case of a major fault such as a power plant unexpectedly shutting down. Nearer the point of use this electricity is transferred via a transformer to a distribution system which operates at lower voltage. Shorter term balancing may also depend on market contracts. Though sizes vary. Today these may be contracts placed through an electricity market between buyers and sellers rather than with the TSO itself. However these are never likely to match exactly in practice and so some other means must be available too. This means that the amount of electricity entering the network from power stations must be that same at that being withdrawn by consumers. these power stations typically have capacities ranging from hundreds to thousands of megawatts. The distribution system then carries the electricity to the consumers where it is delivered for use. Traditionally long term balance. placed at hourly intervals which match supply to demand.
In the ideally liberalized system electricity generation is carried out by multiple generators all competing to sell their product on the electricity market. is the limit of intervention possible for the DSO. That. This may involve increasing the capacity of the power lines in order to reduce power and voltage losses or adding new lines in order to improve redundancy. highly regulated companies. Effects of market liberalization One of the main effects of market liberalization has been to break up what were once vertically integrated electricity supply systems where generation. 2000 . As the outline above has stressed. Normally these companies cannot be involved in generation or the sale of electricity since that would involve a conflict of interest with their duty to provide equal access to all buyers and sellers. Distributed generation and the distribution network From the DG perspective the most significant part of this power supply system is the distribution network. it was never intended 13 © Business Insights Limited.Distribution network requirements A traditional passive distribution network has to meet a number of requirements which normally form a part of its terms of operation. however. However since both transmission and distribution are considered natural monopolies. These requirements include the ability to cope with the maximum load demanded by the customers connected to the distribution system. It is the job of the distribution system operator (DSO) to ensure that these requirements are met. Both generators and customers need access to the transmission and distribution systems in order to complete these transactions. In particular. If the supply regularly falls outside these requirements then the DSO needs to upgrade its system in order to improve the quality of its supply. The contacts between generators and their customers and between the transmission and distribution systems are now based on commercial relationships. within specified limits. The DSO can also make some small voltage adjustments at the interface with the transmission system in order to maintain distribution voltage. these are owned by different. Liberalization has. transmission and distribution were all controlled by a single entity. broken some of the lines of communication which existed in the world of the vertically integrated utility. its voltage and its frequency.2010 . thus. the distribution network is traditionally conceived as a purely passive network. This electricity is then bought by both electricity supply companies who sell it on to small consumers and by large consumers. This must be capable of being supplied while maintaining the power quality.
As one might imagine.2010 . Most distribution networks are either simple radial arrangements of feeders or based on a ring system which provides some element of redundancy. it earns less. that it will feed electricity directly into the distribution system.to have electricity generators attached to it. then in practical terms it is invisible to the DSO. The more power generated beyond the meter by DG units. Depending on the types of generator. be classified as faults. this poses some interesting problems. however. But if it does not export to the distribution grid. Today. DG behind the meter The foregoing discussion applies to DG that is actively feeding power into a distribution system. most DG is located behind the meters which measure the amount of electricity being taken by consumers. Connection and disconnection of DG can also produce shortlived spikes on the distribution system which might. However this will affect voltages at different parts of the system and may have the potential to push voltages beyond the limits set for its operation. This DG is used for standby or it may be used for CHP or perhaps for peak shaving. In the most extreme case there could be more generating capacity connected to the distribution network than there is demand. This is clearly something for which the system was not designed and in some cases it may not be possible. That is not an equation 14 © Business Insights Limited. These were all supposed to feed into the transmission system. Introducing DG upsets this voltage profile because the effect of the DG is to lift the voltage at the point where it is connected. from the distribution system back into the transmission system. With multiple DG connections feeding in power at uncoordinated times. the DG may affect both the frequency and voltage on the distribution system. The voltage on a distribution system is normally highest close to the transformer feeding it from the transmission system. or will attempt to be. But this is exactly what DG supposes. In both cases the direction of flow is always from the transformer connection with the transmission line to the consumers and its nature is predictable. the effects can be unpredictable. However once a source of generation is introduced into either type of distribution network it has to potential to change this flow. The most fundamental change created by introduction of DG into the distribution network is to alter the flow of electricity. the most obvious effect is economic. Therefore if it carries less. Apart from some system stability and predictability issues such as those outlined above. More normally there will only be a relatively small amount of generating capacity feeding directly into the distribution network. neither is desirable. However its effects are not. But the DSO earns its income based on the amount of electricity it carries. From the DSO's perspective. the fall being greater the higher the load being drawn from the network. In this case the net flow will. the less consumers will need from the grid and the less the distribution system will carry. if large enough. 2000 . The voltage then falls as the distance from the transformer increases.
This would mean that all the dispersed 15 © Business Insights Limited. Second it would provide the ability to absorb power from intermittent renewable sources such as wind and solar. this is a situation that DSOs must face. As we have already seen it is traditionally the role of the TSO to provide active control of the power supply. Yet if DG is to grow. and all the predictions today suggest that it will. What are they to do? Many observers now advocate that DSOs should change radically the way they operate. It would need reserve capacity available to correct imbalances and it would need to be capable of correcting faults when they occur. Here we will look in more detail at how they might change. For this it would need exactly the same tools as the TSO. And while the DSO cannot own generating capacity itself. allowing them to generate at full power when possible while compensating when they cannot by providing power from the storage system. This would have two enormous benefits. Unfortunately change is not easy because of the fact that DSOs are considered a natural monopoly and the activities in which they can become involved as well as their operation of the distribution system is strictly circumscribed. The legislative issues involved in allowing their mode of operation to change will be discussed more fully in Chapter 7 but it seems likely that some change will be required if full advantage is to be taken of DG. That makes sense when all the generating capacity feeds directly into the transmission system. An active DSO would be in control of balancing its own distribution network. however. But with the introduction of DG. For example an active DSO could begin to dispatch the DG installations within its system. an active DSO would be able to integrate distributed generation far more effectively than a passive DSO and thereby enable everybody to reap the maximum benefit. that situation no longer exists.2010 . Passive and active distribution networks Passive network Business: DG: Network stability: Power delivery Invisible or uncontrolled Limited intervention Active network Power delivery.that makes many DSOs happy. First it would provide a pool of immediately available power for system balancing. network management Managed and dispatched Major stability improvements Source: Business Insights Perhaps most importantly. it might be able to add storage capacity to the distribution system. Active distribution systems The most interesting way in which distribution systems might change is for them to convert from being passive networks to becoming active networks. 2000 .
even in the best managed systems. In fact what it refers to is more accurately described as the aggregated dispatch of distributed generation capacity. The concept has been tested in a pilot project in New York State using the internet as the medium for controlling the available DG units. The idea behind the concept is to co-ordinate all the local DG units. If managed correctly. Charlotte Ramsay and Danny Pudjianto.generating capacity could. Depending on the precise type of generating capacity available. These losses are significant. DTI Centre for Distributed Generation and Sustainable Electrical Energy. in the same way as a TSO co-ordinates the generation capacity on the transmission network. Losses on the UK's distribution systems average around 7%.2010 . become a part of the national system as well as providing much greater stability and security of supply locally. 2000 . at once. And what it allows it much fuller use of local DG. Nevertheless the gains that appear achievable in terms of efficiency. this would allow the peaks and troughs of the daily load to be controlled much more efficiently and economically. March 2007. Active management on this scale is likely to involve the introduction of complex network control systems and this will undoubtedly be expensive. The term is rather misleading since there is nothing virtual about the generating capacity. which amounts to around 20TWh/y. high levels of local DG capacity can reduce peak losses by up to 40% in rural networks and 33% in urban networks. or at least as many as can be usefully employed. security and reliability appear well worth the cost. Virtual power plants One of the concepts being explored in the context of active distribution network management and DG integration is that of the virtual power plant. Note:  Integration of Distributed Generation into the UK Power System -. Both local distribution networks and the national transmission network should become more resilient. After three years the project had over 50 sites contributing 40MW of generating capacity and had evolved into a commercial operation.Summary Report. The actual loss levels are at their highest during times of peak demand and this is one area where actively managed DG can significantly help. Goran Strbac. 16 © Business Insights Limited. Efficiency and losses Actively managed distribution systems together with DG could also reduce losses incurred during the transmission of electric power across the network. Take the example of the UK transmission and distribution network. And inherently intermittent renewable resources would become much more valuable and more properly valued.
NREL.5m. NREL. If they try and maintain the voltage.Note:  Aggregated Dispatch of Distributed Generation Units. Note:  Report on Distributed Generation Penetration Study. Large capacities of DG can reduce system stress by reducing peak demand and providing some local sources of emergency supply. It is also one that has hardly been addressed at more than a theoretical level. making them worse than they might otherwise have been. This means that even in a fault situation there is an excess of capacity which could be made available to the distribution network if an export interconnection was available. At the same time there is an upward pressure being created by an ever increasing quantity 17 © Business Insights Limited. Electrotek Concepts Inc and New York State Energy Research and Development Authority. The future As the various discussions in this chapter show. which is how they are often designed.2010 . GE Power Systems and Z Ye GE Global Research Center. particularly those intended for backup purposes are normally sized at around twice the actual capacity required by the site in question. . The US Department of Energy and various US state bodies as well as the EU and some individual European member states are all studying the issue. but some types of DG can also aggravate fault conditions. Final Report. The problem is not an inherent one but a matter of how these systems are designed to behave when a fault causes the grid voltage to fall. System stability While the integration of DG into the distribution system appears to offer many benefits there are some technical issues involved too. Another recent study has examined these effects in some detail. One of the discoveries from the pilot project was that many DG installations. the issue of how both transmission and distribution systems are to develop in order to accommodate a greater capacity of DG is a complex issue. 2004. The pilot scheme also showed that aggregated generation can be cost effective. 2003. then this can aggravate the situation. its operation during 2003 made $1. There seems to be a particular danger with DG systems that use electronic inverters to generate ac power for connection to the grid. 2000 . Even though this was originally intended as a research project. One of these is the possible effects on system stability. How to achieve this is the aim of a variety of national and international efforts today. However this behavior could be modified in order to improve stability. Miller. The greatest beneficial change appears to be to turn passive distribution networks into active ones.
2000 .2010 .of distributed generation being installed in many parts of the world. more than anything which will force change in the coming years. 18 © Business Insights Limited. It will be this. Exactly what that change at the network level will be and how it will be managed remains a matter for speculation today.
2010 . diesel. are essentially tiny gas turbines and we will also consider briefly Stirling engines which are attractive in some niche roles. These do generally quality. This will be valuable to distribution network operators when distribution systems become actively managed. According to our definition in Chapter 1. However there are a lot of smaller units which connect to the distribution system. Another group called microturbines. such plants do not qualify as distributed generation. Where such control is available. which are becoming increasingly popular. They can burn a wide variety of fuels including petrol. methanol. biodiesel. This chapter will look at the different types of fossil-fuel based generating units available today and at the DG uses to which they may be put. as discussed in Chapter 2. Reciprocating engines Reciprocating engines are piston-based engines such as those used in road vehicles. Some of the larger industrial cogeneration systems may be connected to a national transmission system where they export power to the grid in the same way as a large power generator might. The main types for consideration are reciprocating engines and gas turbines. usually 50Hz or 60Hz. although this is unlikely to be cost effective for some of the smaller machines. 2000 . In principle all are capable of being controlled to produce electricity at the grid frequency. 19 © Business Insights Limited. these generators can be used to support the grid frequency and aid system stability. These may be small reciprocating engines used for backup or they may be larger gas-turbine-based cogeneration systems in industries such as wood processing or paper manufacturing.Conventional fossil-fuel based technologies for distributed generation Introduction Most of the distributed generation in use today relies on conventional fossil-fuel based generation systems. All these generating systems use rotating machinery to produce electricity.
This is the stroke that generates the motive force. while generally less efficient. A two stroke engine combines intake and exhaust strokes with fuel being admitted at the end of the power stroke to force the spent gases out. Two are in common use. The latter is the commonest and is the one used in most DG engines. making the second of the two strokes. the spark ignition engine and the diesel engine. When the piston reaches the bottom of this stroke the intake valve is closed and the gaseous mixture within the chamber is compressed by the piston which begins to move towards the top of the chamber again. When it reaches the top. in which case overall efficiencies can be raised to 70-80% with ease. the fuel in the chamber is ignited. These types of power generation systems are also easily adapted for use as combined heat and power plants. while the intake valve is opened. The first engine stroke involves the piston moving down from the top of the ignition chamber. and light and heavy fuel oils and some have even been designed to burn coal. Reciprocating engines used for power generation are invariably derived from models intended for propulsion. natural gas. In the spark-ignition engine the expansion stroke of the 20 © Business Insights Limited. Large engines of this type can be extremely efficient and the small ones. in turn. one to admit air or an air-and-fuel mixture and a second to exhaust the spent gases after combustion.2010 . The common feature of all reciprocating engines is a cylindrical combustion chamber containing a piston. Most engines contain at least four cylinders and pistons. Engine cycles Reciprocating engines can be categorized according to the type of piston cycle they exploit. However some very large engines also use a two stroke cycle. are manufactured in large numbers and so have become cheap to produce. the two-stroke cycle and the four-stroke cycle. 2000 . Two stroke engines are much simpler than four and are most often used in small engines such as those in lawn mowers. Engine types There are two main categories of four-stroke engine in use today. this time with the exhaust valve open so that the spent mixture can be forced out of the chamber. connected to the main drive shaft of the engine. The smallest engines are based on car engines and larger ones on the engines used for road transport and industrial vehicles. The largest engines are based on ship propulsion units or locomotive engines. Movement of the piston forwards and backwards within the cylinder during the engine cycle is converted via the rod and linkage to the main shaft into rotary motion which can be used to drive wheels or a generator. Finally the piston rises to the top of the cylinder again. Compression and ignition follow. some many more. the point of maximum compression. In the four-stroke engine each cylinder is equipped with at least two valves. It is from this that the motive force is derived. The piston fits closely within the cylinder and one side of it is connected to a rod which is. resulting in an explosion which forces the piston down and away from the top of the chamber.ethanol.
As a result the concentration of nitrogen oxides produced is much higher (see Table 3. raising its temperature in the process until it is above the point at which the fuel will spontaneously ignite.4) and many diesel engines require large emission control systems in order to comply with local emission regulations. generating the pressure for the work stroke of the cycle. However diesel engines can burn biodiesel derived from plant oils and this may be attractive in some situations.2010 . In order to obtain both low emissions and high efficiency. Engines types Spark ignition Size Efficiency Nitrogen oxide emissions 1kW-6. leading to higher combustion temperatures and more nitrogen oxide production. Spark-ignition engines can burn a variety of fuels including petrol (gasoline) and petrol-ethanol mixtures. This is because high efficiency demands a fuel rich mixture. This air is then compressed much more highly than in a spark-ignition engine.engine cycle draws a mixture of fuel and air into the cylinder. For this reason spark-ignition engines are often preferred for DG installations. cylinder diameters in these large engines can approach one meter. Diesel engines can be built to larger sizes than spark-ignition engines. However for DG applications many burn natural gas.5MW 28-42% 45-150ppmV Diesel 1kW-65MW 20-48% 450-1. The temperature within the cylinder of a diesel engine during combustion is much higher than inside that of a spark ignition engine. When burning natural gas the efficiency ranges between 28% and 42%. 2000 . some large spark-ignition engines utilize a pre-combustion chamber in which a fuelrich gas mixture is ignited and this then ignites the gas in the main cylinder which is leaner. Spark ignition engines vary in size from 1kW (or less) to 6. 2005 The diesel engine differs from the spark-ignition engine in that the intake stroke of the cycle draws only air through the intake valve.800ppmV Source: Power Generation Technologies Note:  Power Generation Technologies. This is compressed during the following compression stroke and the mixture is then ignited with an electrically-generated spark (normally provided by a spark plug). keeping the temperature lower and generating lower concentrations of nitrogen oxides. Paul Breeze. Engines operated at the point of maximum efficiency will produce up to twice as much nitrogen oxides as those tuned for low emissions. The largest have a generating capacity of up to 65MW. Newnes. This fuel is introduced at the top of the compression cycle when it immediately ignites.5MW with the smaller engines generally less efficient than larger units. The higher combustion temperature makes diesel engines 21 © Business Insights Limited.
Gas engines perform slightly less well. The efficiency of a diesel engine will hardly change when load falls from 100% to 50%. These engines are therefore better suited to continuous or base-load operation. Medium and low speed engines are much more costly but this is balanced by significantly higher efficiencies and much longer lives. However even this is good when compared to many other types of fossil fuel-based power plant. Engines of this speed are classified as high speed engines and they have been built with generating capacities of up to 8. Cogeneration with reciprocating engines Reciprocating engines are available in a very wide range of sizes so there is a capacity suitable for virtually every type of DG installation.000rpm (50Hz) or 1. 2000 .200-3.significantly more efficient that spark-ignition engines.000rpm. raising the efficiency significantly. Reciprocating engines are also well adapted to part load operation. Depending on engine efficiency. Around 30% to 50% of the waste heat is found within the exhaust gases. The largest.000-3. However the compression ratio is raised so that the temperature within the cylinder will rise high enough during the compression stroke to ignite a small quantity of diesel fuel admitted at the top of the cycle to start the ignition. normally between 275rpm and 1. with maximum efficiencies in the largest of around 48%.2010 . These engines have generating capacities of between 1MW and 35MW. Medium speed engines operate at lower speeds. The actual engine choice depends on the application.600 (60Hz). Such engines normally operate with between 1% and 15% diesel fuel. all can be adapted for cogeneration of hot water. and a further 30% ends up in the engine casing where 22 © Business Insights Limited. There have been attempts to capture the efficiency advantages of the diesel engine in a natural-gas fired engine. This uses the same four stroke cycle as both the diesel and spark-ignition engines and the intake stoke draws a mixture of air and natural gas into the cylinder. slow speed engines run at between 50rpm and 275rpm. with an efficiency drop of around 10% at half-load. The energy from the fuel burnt in a reciprocating engine that is not converted into electricity emerges as heat. this will be between 50% and 75% of the energy content of the fuel. The most effective result of this has been the duel fuel engine. Engine speeds Engine speed varies with engine size and speed is used to categorize engines. The smallest normally operate at between 1. And though the efficiency of the smaller engines may be relatively low. Their capacities range from 2MW to 65MW.5MW. As a result these types of engine are often best suited to back-up operation rather than for continuous service. High speed engines have the highest power density but generally operate at lower efficiencies and have shorter lives.
but these engines are unlikely to be found in normal DG applications. In principle all these different sources can be harnessed and the heat they contain captured and used to produce hot water for space heating or other purposes.800ppmv. by contrast. 2000 . Emissions of nitrogen oxides from spark-ignition natural gas engines. reciprocating engines also produce carbon dioxide. or by burning hydrogen. In common with all fossil-fuel based electricity generation systems. Engine emissions The primary emissions of concern for most reciprocating engines are nitrogen oxides. However. diesel engines can produce significant amounts of particulate material if combustion is not carefully controlled and both can also generate carbon monoxide and volatile organic compounds (VOC). range from 45-150ppmv (see Table 3. a report by DE Solutions Inc for the Oak Ridge National Laboratory and the US Department of Energy. a recent estimate put the cost of meeting regulations in California at $130/kW for a 3MW engine and $170/kW for a 1MW engine with prices rising significantly for smaller engines. 23 © Business Insights Limited. may also produce sulfur dioxide. or the exhaust gases can be used for drying. With some modifications it is feasible to raise the combustion temperature within the cylinders of these engines sufficiently that the heat within the exhaust gases can be used to raise steam to drive a steam turbine. This is clearly an attractive proposition in many commercial and small industrial operations. Note:  Clean Distributed Generation Performance and Cost Analysis. This is only cost-effective with the largest engines since significant emission control systems will also be needed but it does raise efficiency to close to 50%. Where a source of hot water can be utilized.it is captured by the engine cooling system while more is transferred to the engine oil.2010 . These units can be expensive. The largest slow speed engines. a reciprocating engine can operate at around 70-80% overall energy efficiency. In addition to nitrogen oxides. They are greatest for diesel engines which can generate up to 1. 2004. burning heavy fuel oil. Nitrogen oxide. In the near term it is unlikely to be cost effective to capture the carbon dioxide emissions from a reciprocating engine exhaust. In some cases low pressure steam can be generated from the exhaust heat too. carbon monoxide and VOC emissions from reciprocating engines are most effectively controlled using some form of catalytic conversion similar to that fitted to car engine exhausts. Note:  parts per million by volume. It is even possible to operate large slow-speed diesel engines as combined cycle plants. the high efficiencies that can be achieved when these engines are used in cogeneration applications go some way towards mitigating their effect. In the long term the most effective way of reducing the carbon emissions from such units is likely to be by use of carbon-neutral fuel such as ethanol or bio-diesel.4).
Modern gas turbines can be as large as 340MW.2010 . Total installed cost for 550kW gas-engine based system is around $1. The largest machines are generally used in gas turbine combined cycle power plants feeding power directly into the transmission system of a power supply network. According to the California Energy Commission. Note:  California Energy Commission.005/kWh and $0. natural gas-fired reciprocating engine generator packages cost between $300/kW and $900/kW depending on size. Most burn gaseous fuel.010/kWh. In the case of the gas turbine the turbine blades are enclosed in a tight-fitting case. The principle upon which the gas turbine operates is very similar to that of a wind turbine. At the same time the program will attempt to reduce nitrogen oxide emissions to around 4ppmV. modern gas turbines are all derived from aero engines.075/kW.007/kWh and $0. normally natural gas.015/kWh while the similar cost for diesel engine based systems are $0.Engine developments There are several initiatives underway today attempting to find ways of reducing emissions from reciprocating engines while raising their efficiency and reducing cost. 24 © Business Insights Limited. energy from moving gas (air in the case of the wind turbine) is captured by carefully shaped blades attached to a shaft. One being funded by the California Energy Commission and the US DOE involves exhaust gas recycling which has the potential to reduce catalyst costs by limiting nitrogen oxide emissions. but they can also burn liquid fuels. 2000 . Versions have also been developed that can be used to burn gas derived from the gasification of both coal and biomass. allowing the maximum amount of energy to be extracted from the hot. However installation costs may add 50% to 100% to the basic cost. with the smallest tending to be the cheapest. Distributed Energy Resource guide. Other techniques such as laser ignition and hydrogen fuel augmentation are also being examined but these are still some way from commercial development. These were originally developed during the late 1930s. Gas turbines While reciprocating engines for stationary power are derived from the piston engines used for transportation and automotive applications. though their installation and operational costs can be higher. with the smallest cheaper than the largest. high pressure products of the combustion of a fuel in air. Meanwhile the US DOE's Advanced Reciprocating Engine Systems (ARES) program involves several projects aimed at increasing engine efficiency to over 50% by 2010. All these programs are aimed at DG applications. generating rotary motion which can be harnessed to provide energy or work. Smaller machines are well suited to cogeneration and DG applications. Maintenance costs for gas engines are between $0. Engine costs Engine costs vary with size.
generating a very hot. Turbine types and sizes Conventional gas turbines range in size from 500kW to around 340MW generating capacity. There are smaller units but these are generally classified as microturbines. High temperatures improve the thermodynamic efficiency of the engine but they also require extremely advanced materials to withstand them without damage. very high pressure gas mixture which is then directed through the turbine section of the gas turbine. Gas turbines can be divided into two types. Industrial gas turbines. by contrast. air is first drawn into the compressor section of the engine which comprises ten or twelve sets of axially mounted blades which compress the air to 15-17 atmospheres.) The compressed air is then fed into a combustion chamber where it is mixed with fuel and ignited. These tend to be light and compact and operate with high efficiency but they are often the most costly. The stationary aeroderivative versions of these normally operate at a lower pressure ratio of around 30:1. Though gas turbines have been traditionally constructed from high temperature alloys. This energy must both drive the earlier compressor stage of the turbine and provide energy to turn a generator and produce electricity. high temperatures potentially lead to the generation of higher levels of nitrogen oxides. gas turbines are normally manufactured in a limited number of sizes so there will not be units available to match perfectly the power demand in all applications.Modern gas turbines have three major parts. Both the compressor and the turbine are normally mounted on the same shaft. Unlike reciprocating engines. Aeroderivative gas turbines are stationary versions of aero engines. turbine developers are increasingly turning to ceramics in order to push temperatures to the maximum achievable. Aero gas turbines operate with the highest pressure ratio.450°C in modern gas turbines.2010 . Note:  Gas Turbine Configurations for Efficient On-Site Power Production. (This operation is broadly similar to the compression stroke of a diesel engine and serves a similar purpose. comprising three to five sets of blades. 2000 . This provides the highest efficiency. Meanwhile industrial gas turbines have traditionally operated at a pressure ratio of 10:1 to 15:1 though some more recent machines have a higher ratio than this. While thermodynamically desirable. Siemens Industrial Turbomachinery Ltd. In operation. by Ian Amos. Power Engineering. high pressure gas is extracted to turn the turbine shaft. a discussion of microturbines will be saved for later. Energy contained in this hot. The gases exiting the combustion chamber can reach 1. a compressor. 2007 25 © Business Insights Limited. a combustion chamber and the turbine. As a consequence most modern gas turbines have very carefully designed combustion chambers which aim to minimize nitrogen oxides production. tend to be heavier and often somewhat less efficient but cheaper and more robust. aeroderivative and industrial. as high as 50:1 in modern machines. the main atmospheric pollutant from gas turbines.
another factor which may favor a reciprocating engine. Machines with intercooling or recuperation claim higher efficiency The efficiency of a gas turbine depends on the pressure ratio. the combustion temperature and the size. the exhaust gas temperature can be as high as 500. The most efficient simple cycle aeroderivative machines are often less efficient in a CHP plant than a less efficient industrial machine. However whereas the waste heat from an engine is lost in a variety of ways. so smaller turbines generally have lower efficiencies than their larger relatives.Gas turbine types Industria l Size (MW) Typical efficiency (%)* Pressure ratio Source: Business Insights * Best simple cycle efficiency without advanced techniques. Depending on the design. And although a gas turbine plant can be started up in around 10 minutes. making it ideal for producing steam and hot water for cogeneration applications. 1-340 24-38 15:1 Aeroderivative 4-60 24-38 30:1 Gas turbines for cogeneration As with reciprocating engines. From a DG perspective these efficiencies are low compared to those available from reciprocating engines and the latter are likely to be preferred where the sole concern is to generate electricity. This makes gas turbine CHP extremely economical provided there is a use for the heat or steam by-product. In a gas turbine combined heat and power (CHP) plant the exhaust from the gas turbine is fed into a waste heat boiler which converts it into steam. Optimized large machines can now match this. that from a gas turbine emerges almost exclusively in its exhaust.6% in a CHP configuration whereas an 11. this does not compare to the short startup time for a reciprocating engine. The best simple cycle aeroderivative gas turbines can achieve efficiencies of up to 38%.3MW 26 © Business Insights Limited. the energy in the fuel burnt in a gas turbine which is not converted into electricity emerges as heat. Gas turbine efficiencies drop off under part load operation too.9% will show an overall efficiency of 77. The overall system efficiency of a gas turbine CHP plant depends in part on the gas turbine used. For example a 1MW machine will have a typical efficiency of 24% while the efficiency of a 3MW machine might rise to 33%.2010 .C.7MW aeroderivative gas turbine with an electrical output efficiency of 34. This steam can then be used for commercial or industrial processes and in this configuration the system can achieve 80-90% energy efficiency. 2000 . For example a 13. The flexibility of such systems can easily be extended by including supplementary gas firing in the waste heat boiler to provide heat or steam additional to that which the gas turbine can provide.
The largest industrial steam turbines now claim to achieve close to 60% energy to electricity conversion efficiency in optimized combined cycle configurations. Finally there is also a technique called recuperation. by Ian Amos. an aeroderivative machine with intercooling. Injecting water into the compressed air exiting a gas turbine compressor and before it enters the combustion chamber is another method of increasing efficiency. therefore to balance all the operating parameters in order to obtain optimum efficiency. This is similar to a cogeneration plant but the steam from the waste heat boiler is fed into an ancillary steam turbine to generate more electricity. The highest electrical efficiency from a gas turbine-based power plant is obtained from the combined cycle configuration. One way of achieving this with a large gas turbine is to split the turbine section into two parts. This involves using the exhaust gas from the turbine to heat the compressed air before it enters the combustion chamber.8% can achieve 80. 2007. However this may still be too high to satisfy local environmental regulations. As a consequence gas turbines now use specially designed combustion chambers and burners aimed at minimizing nitrogen oxides production. It is critical. 2000 . Gas turbine emissions For gas turbines operating on natural gas. Power Engineering. For smaller turbines a more cost-effective strategy is to split the compressor into two parts and cool the partly compressed air between the two stages.2010 . Solar turbines introduced a 3. This is likely to be significantly lower for smaller machines.2MW turbine in 1997 with recuperation and a claimed efficiency of up to 40. In this case a selective catalytic reduction system is normally used to reduce emissions further. 27 © Business Insights Limited. While the combined cycle configuration might be suitable for the occasional DG installation. These are produced by oxidation of the nitrogen from air at the high temperatures reached in the combustion chambers of modern gas turbines. Advanced gas turbine cycles There are several ways of modifying the basic gas turbine cycle in order to increase efficiency. Note:  Gas Turbine Configurations for Efficient On-Site Power Production. the primary environmental consideration is the emission of nitrogen oxides. The most advanced systems can reduce emissions to 9ppmV. Siemens Industrial Turbomachinery Ltd.5% in the CHP configuration. The gases exiting the first part of the turbine are then reheated in an additional combustion chamber before entering the second part with some resultant gains in efficiency. US company General Electric claims an efficiency of up to 44% for its 100MW LMS100 turbine.5%. This increases the efficiency of the compressor and can lead to an increase of up to 5% in overall efficiency. more normally it will be used for base-load central generation.industrial turbine with a simple cycle efficiency of 29.
Installation costs vary depending on the application but figure collected by the Southwest Research Institute suggest that for a simple cycle gas turbine power plant the installation cost is double the turbine cost. unattributable. Microturbines Microturbines are tiny gas turbines. particularly large industrial machines is their cost. though smaller machines are available. It is also important to bear in mind that gas turbines need overhauling regularly. This data appears to be supplied anonymously so its accuracy cannot be guaranteed but it does provide a consistent picture. some volatile organic compounds and particulates associated with the incomplete combustion of fuel. Prices rise as turbine capacity falls so that the price of 30MW-50MW is probably in the $300-400/kW price range. For a cogeneration plant it is 2. The cost of an overhaul is between 19% and 33% of the new unit cost. Gas turbines also produce carbon dioxide. These 28 © Business Insights Limited.2010 .Gas turbines can also produce carbon monoxide. A 1MW machine may cost $800/kW.2 times the turbine cost and for a combined cycle plant the installed cost is 2. reducing the net greenhouse gas impact of energy production. probably every three to four years for a unit operating all the time.gas-turbines. adding substantially to overall lifetime costs of the plant. For example the cost of a 1MW machine is put at $900/kW while that of a 25MW machine is $370/kW.htm where gas turbine prices have been collected. When the fuel is natural gas the emissions of these products should be low. As with reciprocating engines it is unlikely to be cost effective to capture this from small installations in the near future. The bare turbine cost will rise substantially when it is installed. Gas turbine costs One of the attractions of gas turbines. Recent. However most gas turbines for DG applications will be used for cogeneration. Note:  These figures were collected by the Southwest Research Institute for the Gas Turbine Association in 2004. Burning liquid fuels could result in higher levels. Note:  See for example http://www.com/trader/kwprice. 2000 . For the purposes of DG they are generally in the 20kW to 500kW power output range.4 times the turbine cost. Note:  These figures were collected by the Southwest Research Institute for the Gas Turbine Association in 2004. Attributable figures from 2004 do not differ markedly from these unattributable numbers. Note:  These figures were collected by the Southwest Research Institute for the Gas Turbine Association in 2004. figures for large gas turbines suggest that machines in the 100MW-200MW range can be purchased for as little as $200/kW or less.
With optimised designs they can reach around 35% energy to electrical conversion efficiency. a Presbyterian minister. Since the systems are relatively simple. 29 © Business Insights Limited. The Stirling engine differs from the others discussed in this chapter because its (normally) two connected cylinders are completely sealed from the atmosphere and heat is applied externally to drive them. By the end of this decade advanced fuel cells could well offer superior performance and if costs are comparable. a generator and an electronic grid interface. A solid state inverter is used to convert the output to grid frequency and voltage. (Development machines have claimed to achieve emissions as low as 2. Renewable systems could also become competitive over that time scale. This makes it adaptable to a wide variety of fuels and the engines have also been used in solar thermal power plants.2010 . Many can achieve nitrogen oxide emissions of 9ppm or less. The low environmental impact of these units means that they can be placed in urban settings such as office blocks or other commercial and small industrial buildings.100/kW for a total package. Microturbine costs today are between $700/kW and $1. This program aims to develop a turbine of around 200kW generating capacity with an electrical generation efficiency of 40% and nitrogen oxide emissions below 7ppm. raising overall energy efficiency to around 8890%. called the Advanced Microturbine Program is being funded by the US DOE. Research is now moving ahead to develop a second generation building on the first generation performance.) Carbon monoxide emission levels are low too. Emissions from microturbines are generally low. Each package will contain a turbine and air compressor. The first generation of units have found a small niche market. Many also incorporate waste heat recovery to produce hot water for combined heat and power applications. The US DOE program aims to cut this to less than $500/kW.machines normally run at very high speeds and drive a generator directly. with few moving parts. This device was invented in 1816 by Robert Stirling. These units are aimed specifically at DG applications. the DG market for microturbines could disappear. Most come packaged so that installation is simple. Microturbines often incorporate recuperators in order to improve overall efficiency. the development machines will probably need to use ceramic components and high operating temperatures. reliability is expected to be high. but though it is extremely efficient and very simple it has only found limited application. One development program. Although microturbines can operate on a variety of fuels most units are designed to burn natural gas. waste heat recovery or recuperation (or both) systems. However it is not clear how long the market for such systems will exist. an input gas compressor to raise the natural gas pressure. The development of microturbines is a recent phenomenon and they must still be considered new technology. In order to achieve this target. 2000 . Stirling engines The final type of reciprocating engine to consider in this chapter is the Stirling engine.5ppm.
that GE has claimed a maximum efficiency of 44% for its LMS100 gas turbine. **Costs are for bare engines except in the case of micro turbines where the cost is for a complete package.600h without faltering.Stirling engines take some time to warm up and they produce less power for their size than steam turbines.000/kW and $50. making the system suitable for providing hot water. Costs would certainly come down if the market could be expanded but today they remain too expensive for most DG applications except solar dishes (see Chapter 5). however. built a small Stirling engine which produced 10W of energy continuously for 87. See text for the installation costs for the other technologies. 2000 .100 Stirling engines 1-50kW 30-40% 2.000/kW and most are built in very small numbers. A US company. Those suitable for DG applications range from 1kW to perhaps 50kW.000-50. Note:  These figures are from the California Energy Commission.2010 . units should be capable of up to 40% efficiency and most of the waste heat is captured in cooling water. However they can run continuously for extremely long periods without maintenance or a decline in performance. Technology comparison Piston engines Size Efficiency NOx emissions (ppm) Cost ($/kW)** 1kW-65MW 24-48% 45-1800 300-900 Gas turbines 500kW340MW 24-39%* 9-25 200-800 Microturbine s 20-500kW 30-35% 9 700-1. With high temperature operation. However their long life and extremely quiet operation make them suitable for use both domestically and in small commercial situations. The Achilles' heel of the Stirling engine is cost. Most Stirling engines are quite small. Stirling Technology Co (now called Infinia). 30 © Business Insights Limited. Current estimates put cost at between $2.000 Source: Business Insights *Note.
All these characteristics make fuel cells ideally suited to distributed generation applications. It ideally converts hydrogen and oxygen into electricity. As a consequence fuel cells must be adapted to use alternative fuels. As a consequence fuel cells can potentially achieve the highest fuel to electricity conversion efficiencies of any generating technology available today. The latter may be detrimental to fuel cell operation.2010 . Some types of fuel cell are also well suited to cogeneration or even combined cycle applications. There is one other important limiting factor. These are the phosphoric acid fuel cell (PAFC). The limiting factor today remains cost. In this ideal configuration the only by-products of the generating process are water and some waste heat. the proton exchange membrane fuel cell (PEMFC). 2000 . the molten carbonate fuel cell (MCFC) and the solid oxide fuel cell (SOFC). the size of a fuel cell does not. Since the fuel cell does not rely on a heat engine thermodynamic cycle to generate electricity it is not limited by the efficiency limits of such cycles. There are four types of fuel cell that have been or are being developed for power generation applications. Each will be considered separately below after the principle of operation of the fuel cell has been explored. similar to a battery. This reformation reaction will produce carbon dioxide and some residual carbon monoxide. 31 © Business Insights Limited. Note:  Theoretical efficiency is 80% for the ideal reaction between hydrogen and oxygen though this can never be achieved in practice. Most rely on natural gas which is converted into hydrogen in a chemical reactor called a reformer. affect the efficiency of its operation and part load efficiency is virtually the same as full load. as is any sulfur dioxide which must be removed from the fuel stream before it enters the cell itself. Today there is no ready source of hydrogen. Further.Advanced fossil fuel-based technologies for distributed generation: Fuel cells Introduction The fuel cell is an electrochemical device. in principle anyway.
The electrochemical cell thus separates the exchange of electrons.2010 . This reaction releases a considerable quantity of heat. either two positively charged hydrogen ions must migrate through the cell to the oxygen electrode to combine with a negatively charged oxygen atom.The fuel cell principle The fuel cell harnesses the natural reaction between hydrogen and oxygen to produce water. The cell itself must contain an electrolyte which will allow either hydrogen ions or oxygen ions to pass from one electrode to the other. the nature of the electrolyte and the type of catalyst used at the electrodes determine the different types of fuel cell under development today. after which a chain reaction ensues and continues until either the hydrogen or the oxygen has been exhausted. H2 = 2H: H = H+ + eAt the oxygen electrode an oxygen molecule splits into two oxygen atoms in a process analogous to that taking place at the hydrogen electrode. leaving a positively charged hydrogen ion. which provide power from the cell. At the hydrogen electrode a hydrogen molecule divides into two atoms and each of these atoms releases an electron. but not both. 32 © Business Insights Limited. The temperature of operation. and the combination of the ions. a proton. Each half of the reaction is carried out at one of the two electrodes of the cell. The reaction can be initiated with a spark or flame. The released electrons pass through an external circuit to the oxygen electrode and this process is responsible for the electrical energy provided by the cell. At high temperatures both hydrogen and oxygen molecules will dissociate easily but at lower temperatures efficient catalysts are required at each electrode in order to accelerate the dissociation reaction. producing water at the oxygen electrode. However each of these oxygen atoms captures two electrons from the external circuit to produce two doubly negatively charged oxygen ions. 2000 . or the oxygen ion must migrate through the cell to the hydrogen electrode to combine with two hydrogen ions. in which case the water is produced at the hydrogen electrode. This reaction will occur spontaneously at high temperatures but at ambient temperature a catalyst of some sort is needed to make it start. 4H2 + O2 = 2H2O An electrochemical cell such as a fuel cell exploits this reaction in a controlled manner by splitting it into two parts. O2 = 2O: O + 2e = O2In order to complete the reaction. one involving hydrogen and the other oxygen.
5%.Phosphoric acid fuel cell The phosphoric acid fuel cell is so named because it uses a cell electrolyte composed of pure phosphoric acid. Phosphoric acid fuel cell Electrolyte Electrodes Electrode catalyst Operating temperature Carbon monoxide Sulfur dioxide sensitivity Theoretical efficiency Practical efficiency Cogeneration efficiency Typical size Cost Source: Business Insights Phosphoric acid fuel cells have a theoretical efficiency of 42% but this is hard to reach in practice. but once the cell reaction has begun the heat released is sufficient to maintain the operating temperatures. The platinum catalyst is particularly sensitive to poisoning. This compound is a proton conductor -.5% High 42% 36% 87% 100-400kW $4. Practical cells have achieved around 36%. Its hydrogen ion conduction is not exceptional but the material is stable to just above 200°C. though other sources are possible. allowing the cell to operate at a slightly elevated temperature. Oxygen is provided at the oxygen electrode from air while hydrogen is normally generated from natural gas in a reformer. This aids both proton conductivity and the speed of the electrode reactions.2010 . 2000 . Care must be taken to prevent evaporation or migration. The cell electrolyte is a liquid and it is contained in the cell within a silicon carbide matrix where is held by capillary action. The cell must be heated in order to start it up.but not an oxygen ion conductor.it will allow hydrogen ions to pass -. it can also be adapted for cogeneration Phosphoric acid Porous carbon Platinum 200°C <1. Since the cell operates at an elevated temperature and produces heat. Phosphoric acid fuel cells are operated at around 200°C. especially by carbon monoxide so the concentration of this reforming reaction impurity must be kept below 1.500/kWA 33 © Business Insights Limited. Any sulfur dioxide present is disastrous for the catalyst so this must be scrupulously removed. Electrodes of porous carbon are bonded to the silicon carbide matrix and these carbon electrodes are coated with platinum which acts as a catalyst to encourage the dissociation of hydrogen and oxygen at the separate electrodes.
though most are in the US.000. 2007. providing hot water. The 400kW demonstration project cited above represents one example. The phosphoric acid fuel cell is the earliest of the modern fuel cells to be developed for power generation applications. Proton exchange membrane fuel cell The PEMFC has the lowest operating temperature of all the commercial fuel cells under development today. In this configuration an efficiency of around 87% is possible. The membrane 34 © Business Insights Limited. Note:  See Fuel Cell Today Large Stationary Survey 2007. Interest in PAFCs waned during the early part of this century mainly as a result of the development of alternative types which appeared to offer cheaper. Meanwhile a company called HydroGen has installed a 400kW demonstration plant utilizing PAFC technology at a chlor-alkali plant in Ohio.Dr Kerry-Ann Adamson.250/kW. Note:  Phosphoric Acid Fuel Cell Developer HydroGen Announces Mechanical Completion of First Commercial Demonstration. Note:  Fuel Cell Market Survey: Large Stationary Applications. UTC Fuel Cells recently claimed that it will be launching a 400kW version of its fuel cell in 2009 with twice the life and half the cost of its existing model. Mark Cropper. Eric Carlson . Around 200 of these have been installed at sites in many countries. 2007. 2000 . International Fuel Cells (a joint venture between United Technologies and Toshiba) launched a 200kW PAFC fuel cell cogeneration plant with 36% electrical efficiency and overall cogeneration efficiency of 87% in 1992. 2007. suggesting an installed cost of around $2. Kurt Roth and James Brodrick. However this development has been slower than expected and since 2004 there has been renewed interest in the PAFC technology.Robert Zogg. ASHRAE Journal.applications.500/kW. September 2003. Fuel Cell Today.000kW with cogeneration. water. Suresh Sriramulu. The cell is named after the thin polymer membrane which forms the core of each cell and which contains the electrolyte. Fuel Cell Today. more efficient source of electricity and heat. Fuel Cell Today. It is also developing a 5kW model which it says will be commercially available next year.2010 . Costs for PAFC units are difficult to find but a 2003 report suggested that a commercial 200kW cost around $900. Another is the introduction of a 100kW unit for the Japanese market. The latest version of this unit is still available from UTC Fuel Cells with a power output of 200kW and a heat output of around 260kW. or $4. The PAFC technology is particularly suited for DG applications of between 100kW and 1. September. In all there are probably 300 PAFC units in operation around the world today. Note:  Using Phosphoric-Acid Fuel Cells for Distributed Generation.
The concentration of this gas must therefore be kept very low. When a source of hydrogen is available it has a theoretical efficiency of 60%. Proton exchange membrane fuel cell Electrolyte Electrodes Electrode catalyst Operating temperature Carbon monoxide Sulfur dioxide sensitivity Theoretical efficiency Practical efficiency* Cogeneration efficiency Typical size Cost Water Porous carbon Platinum 80°C <2ppm Very high 60% 42% 1-500kW - 35 © Business Insights Limited. In practice cells are operated at about 80°C. 2000 . However when natural gas reformation is necessary. reducing efficiency to about 42%.2010 .is usually made from poly-perfluorocarbon sulfonate. Since the cell electrolyte is water. As with the PAFC cell. Electrodes of porous carbon containing platinum are attached to the surfaces of the membrane. slowing startup time which would otherwise be fast. In its normal state the membrane does not conduct protons but if it is saturated with water the acidic sulfonate groups within the membrane make the water acidic and hence able to conduct protons. a compound similar to teflon. in this case using a printing process. However the need for platinum adds to the cost of the cell. the low operating temperature of the cell is insufficient to provide heat to drive the reformer and so some gas must be burned to provide adequate heat. This has led to a number of developments of PEMFC fuel cells for stationary power applications. The PEMFC is extremely efficient. 100°C. coupled with the extremely light weight of the polymer cell has made the PEMFC one of the main candidates for automotive applications based on hydrogen fuel. the platinum is necessary to encourage the dissociation of hydrogen and oxygen molecules at the electrode surface since this process does not normally take place very rapidly at the low operating temperature of the cell. As a consequence automotive manufacturers have invested significant amounts in its development. cell temperature must be kept well below its boiling point. The low operating temperature also means that the catalyst is particularly sensitive to carbon monoxide poisoning when fed with hydrogen generated from a reformer. the low operating temperature of this design means that it cannot readily be used to produce heat as well as power. However unlike other fuel cells. The high efficiency when fuelled with hydrogen. The reformer also takes about 20 minutes to start.
2000 .000/kW.2005. At the hydrogen electrode. no platinum catalyst is necessary to accelerate dissociation of hydrogen and oxygen molecules at the electrodes and so these can be made of nickel. Trends and Market Forecast for Stationary Fuel Cell Power Systems. May 2005. Dan Rastler. Note:  Status. Presented at Ohio Fuel Cell Symposium. The net result of this complex series of reactions is simply the reaction between hydrogen and oxygen to produce water. However at the cell operating temperature of 650°C the salts are liquid and will conduct carbonate ions. 36 © Business Insights Limited. hydrogen atoms react with carbonate ions within the electrolyte. Molten carbonate fuel cell The MCFC employs the most complex cell reaction of all fuel cells. sodium and potassium) which are solid at room temperature. Since this reaction consumes part of the electrolyte. As a consequence of the elevated temperature. Eric Carlson.2010 . the carbonate must be replaced. producing water and carbon dioxide. and Yong Yang. A 2005 analysis of costs of high volume production of PEMFC units for automotive applications suggested that the current technology could with a high level of probability meet a US DOE target of $125/kW. Note:  PEM Fuel Cell Cost Status . This high operating temperature combined with a liquid electrolyte impose some severe technical demands on the cell construction. Electric Power Research Institute. Jayanti Sinha. any costs are speculative.Source: Business Insights * Efficiency with reformed natural gas One of the niche applications for PEMFC fuel cells is at chemical plants that generate hydrogen as a waste product. While the PEMFC remains in the development stage. Suresh Sriramulu. The cell electrolyte is a mixture of carbonates (normally lithium. November 2005. Other companies are developing small units in the 1kW50kW range for domestic and small commercial applications. However the cost of a stationary cell for power generation today is probably around $5. Carbon dioxide from the hydrogen electrode is transferred to the second electrode where it reacts with oxygen to generate more carbonate ions which enter the electrolyte to replace those consumed at the hydrogen electrode. Both Danish company NedStack and US/Italian company Nuvera Fuel Cells have installed units (100kW-500kW) at industrial sites where hydrogen is available. CO32-. and it is this conduction which enables the cell reaction to proceed. Peter Kopf. This takes place at the oxygen electrode. The cell electrolyte is contained in porous refractory tiles and electrodes are applied to the surface of these tiles. Tiax LLc.
In fact the cell can burn carbon monoxide as well as hydrogen. K carbonates Nickel None 650°C Insensitive Medium 60% 54% 85% 40-2. Molten carbonate fuel cell Electrolyte Electrodes Electrode catalyst Operating temperature Carbon monoxide Sulfur dioxide sensitivity Theoretical efficiency Practical efficiency Cogeneration efficiency Typical size Cost Source: Business Insights The MCFC has a theoretical efficiency of 60% though production units may only achieve 54%. MCFC fuel cells are in early stages of commercialization and the current costs reflect this. The MCFC plant is extremely complex and it is unlikely to be cost effective to build very small units. providing an efficient combined heat and power installation. Italian company Ansaldo is also active in MCFC development.400kW. 1. 2000 . Typical costs appear to be $3. Alternatively the heat can be used for hot water or steam generation.200kW and 2. The high temperature of operation of the cell leads to production of high grade waste heat and this can be used to drive a small gas turbine or microturbine to generate additional electricity. reducing costs and simplifying design. Another consequence of high temperature operation is a complete insensitivity to the presence of carbon monoxide in the fuel gas. Meanwhile US company FuelCell Energy is marketing units of 300kW.000/kW for installations of over 1MW while smaller units are slightly more expensive.The high cell operating temperature allows natural gas reforming to take place within the cell. The company has forged links with POSCO in South Korea and CFC Solution in Germany.400kW $3. Li. In this configuration a fuel to electrical efficiency of 75% to 80% may be feasible.000/kW 37 © Business Insights Limited.000-5. The smallest being developed today appears to be a 40kW unit from US company GenCell. This is significantly more than any simple heat engine based generator can easily achieve. Na.2010 .000/kW-$4. far higher than is possible for even the best gas turbine combined cycle plant.
conferring the conductivity necessary for cell operation. Zirconium oxide Nickel. This electrode is normally made from nickel in a ceramic matrix. perhaps as little as 10 microns thick. This is normally zirconium oxide into which some metallic impurities are added. The extremely high operating temperature means that waste heat from the cell can be used to drive an auxiliary gas turbine. The impurities affect the structure of the solid material is such as way that charged oxygen ions can pass through it.000h without failing. The high temperatures make both hydrogen and oxygen very reactive and so the oxygen electrode must be made of an oxide material that cannot react with oxygen.000-$20. at which temperature reforming of natural gas can take place at the hydrogen electrode itself. somewhat lower than the theoretical efficiency.000°C Insensitive Low 55% 47% 85% 5-200kW $10. in principle.2010 . 2000 . forming oxygen ions. The two combine to produce water which is swept away as vapor in the gas stream at the hydrogen electrode. Electrodes are bonded to the electrolyte layer and these also add structural strength. have extremely long lives as well as being able to operate for long periods without interruption. Solid oxide fuel cell Electrolyte Electrodes Electrode catalyst Operating temperature Carbon monoxide Sulphur dioxide sensitivity Theoretical efficiency Practical efficiency Cogeneration efficiency Typical size Cost Source: Business Insights SOFC units can achieve practical efficiencies of 50%. The cell reaction involves oxygen atoms dissociating at the oxygen electrode to create oxygen atoms which then each pick up two electrons. The solid electrolyte is prepared in very thin layers. pushing theoretical efficiency to 70%.000/kW 38 © Business Insights Limited.Solid oxide fuel cell The SOFC is based on the use of a solid oxide electrolyte. oxide None 1. Cells have already been tested for 60. These ions migrate across the cell to the hydrogen electrode where there are positively charged hydrogen ions. The cells operate at around 1000°C. The high operating temperature makes cell construction difficult. However the absence of any liquid components means that the cells should. There is also potential to use SOFC units in combined heat and power applications.
000-$20. However. Note:  Status. current costs are probably $10. The SOFC design is currently farthest from full commercialization and costs today reflect that. Electric Power Research Institute. including integrated SOFC .000/kW. Its SOFC is based on work originally carried out by Westinghouse using a novel tubular cell design. 2000 . A variety of different cell structures and plant objectives are being targeted. The US DOE is sponsoring a major SOFC development program called the Solid State Energy Conversion Alliance (SECA). These utilize natural gas with an efficiency of up to 47%. Dan Rastler. But its simplicity means that if it can be perfected it offers the greatest potential of all fuel cell designs.coal gasification power plants. One of the main commercial SOFC developments is being carried out by Siemens. May 2005. The fuel cell market Annual fuel cell power plant sales (units sold). It has set a target of $400/kW as the point at which SOFC units can become commercially viable. The company is testing 125kW units at a number of sites.Manufacturers hope eventually to be able to construct cells using solid state fabrication processes similar to those used in the electronics industry. 1996-2007 Units 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 34 50 20 41 38 35 32 67 47 78 53 47e Source: Fuel Cell Today 39 © Business Insights Limited. Presented at Ohio Fuel Cell Symposium. Rolls Royce and General Electric are both involved in SOFC development and companies in Japan including Mitsubishi Heavy Industries and Nippon Steel are also pursuing the technology. Trends and Market Forecast for Stationary Fuel Cell Power Systems.2010 .
Dr Kerry-Ann Adamson.Note:  Fuel Cell Today Large Stationary Survey 2007.2010 . globally. according to Fuel Cell Today. as they have done over the past two years. The development of fuel cell technology is taking much longer than was expected at the beginning of this century and it looks as if it will be after 2010 before fully commercial products can be expected. September. This. Slightly fewer sales are expected in 2007 (of which over 50% will occur in the US) but the overall generating capacity is expected to be higher due to a move towards larger unit sizes. But none of the four technologies can be considered dominant. Annual fuel cell power plant sales (units sold). which estimates that the average unit size in 2008 should exceed 1MW. 1996-2007 Source: Fuel Cell Today Fuel cells are quiet in operation and emit virtually no atmospheric pollutants other than carbon dioxide. September 2003. 2000 . But the technology is still a long way from being commercially mature and only makes economic sense today in situations where it will attract some form of sponsorship or government support. Mark Cropper. Fuel Cell Today. 2007. The figures in the table are derived from a graph in the survey and should be considered approximate. Of the different technologies. The cumulative total of fuel cell power plants sold is around 850. MCFCs are expected to take the largest share of the market in 2007. Note:  Fuel Cell Market Survey: Large Stationary Applications. Total global installed capacity now approaches 200MW. makes them extremely attractive for DG applications. Sales of fuel cell power plants are relatively static: in 2006 sales were about 50 units. making them extremely easy to site in urban environments. combined with their high efficiency and flexibility under load. Fuel Cell Today. 40 © Business Insights Limited.
Technology comparison PAFC Practical efficiency (%) Operating temperature (°C) Catalyst Electrolyte Current size (kW) Cost ($/kW) Source: Business Insights 36 200 Pt H3PO 4 5-400 4. 2000 .000 None ZrO2 5-125 10.2010 .000-20.400 3.500 PEMF C 42-55 80 Pt H2O 4-200 5.000 MCFC 54 650 None Carbonate s 40-2.000-5.000 SOFC 47 1.000 41 © Business Insights Limited.
The consequence of this is that renewable DG will always be site specific. There are also a number of technologies for DG that depend on renewable forms of energy. The same applies to wave. or not available in sufficient quantities to make a DG installation viable. But if it is not available. when they are available. can be easily transported from the place where they are found for utilization at a distant location. They can only be harnessed at the place where they are available. tidal current and tidal stream technologies. In fact of all the most common renewable technologies.Renewable technologies for distributed generation Introduction The two previous chapters have examined technologies for distributed generation based on the combustion of fossil fuels. it is instructive to examine briefly one or two key differences between fossil-fuel based and renewable energy sources.sunshine . be they central stations or small DG installations. some places have more than others. An offshore wind farm can supply power hundreds of miles from its location. Solar technologies require solar radiation . These will form the subject of this chapter.and though this is found everywhere on the globe. Similarly. Renewable energy sources are not portable. the wind blows everywhere. then it cannot be used. It is also intermittent. Wind power plants must be sited where the wind regime is most suitable. However even this is restricted by the high cost of transportation over large distances as a result of its low energy density. to be sited where they are most convenient.2010 . electricity is transported. All the main fossil fuels. Of course the sources are still site specific but that is no longer a problem. If a resource is available then it can be harnessed. Before looking at these technologies in detail. coal. Instead of transporting fuel. 42 © Business Insights Limited. 2000 . oil and gas. If there is no stream or river there can be no hydro generation. One of the great advantages of fossil fuels is their portability. So can a solar plant located in the middle of an uninhabitable desert. The same argument does not apply to large scale power generation using renewable sources. but not everywhere with the same frequency and reliability. other than their greenhouse gas emissions. however. only biomass can offer anything like the portability of fossil fuel. This has allowed power plants. Hydropower is even more reliant on location.
Cloud cover also affects the local intensity.2010 . cannot match this compactness. As well as the 24h cycle of day and night. This is likely to make these technologies some of the key components of DG in coming years as the twin pressures of dwindling fossil fuel reserves and advancing global warming take effect. As noted above. wind and hydro. The second way of exploiting sunlight is to use a photovoltaic device -. The first is to use it as a source of heat in the same way as one might burn coal to generate heat for power generation. the yearly cycle of the earth around the sun leads to variations in the length of the day and of the intensity of the sunlight reaching the earth's surface. similar to a transistor and it converts light directly into power. The solar cell is a solid state device. Yet the fact that renewable energy can be harnessed in small quantities and used locally means that it is capable of making an enormous cumulative contribution to the global energy balance. Yet the fact that renewable energy is generally spread more thinly provides one of the best arguments for renewable DG. Ocean technologies such wave and tidal stream will have some limited application and will be considered briefly here too. This solar energy is not spread uniformly. There are two ways of harnessing solar radiation to generate electricity. Renewable energy. 2000 . Costs remain high but this is potentially one of the best renewable technologies we have available. 43 © Business Insights Limited. Both solar thermal technology and solar photovoltaic devices can be suitable for distributed generation. there are few places on earth where solar energy cannot be exploited. 14. the energy is already distributed so it makes sense to use it in that way. These considerations impose some limitations on the use of renewable energy for DG. Biomass for power generation is often in unit sizes similar to larger DG installations but it is not in reality a choice for DG except in exceptional circumstances where a ready supply of biomass is locally available. Neither is it constant. the primary renewable sources of energy for DG applications are solar. In view of this limitation. Paper mills and wood processing plants are good examples of the latter. biomass will not be considered here in any detail.a solar cell -to convert it into electricity. Solar thermal power generation is not yet widely employed but interest in it is growing and some exciting projects are currently under development or entering service. Around 700m TWh of solar energy reaches the earth's surface each year. Some regions receive more than others. Relatively small volumes of fuel can supply enormous quantities of energy to compact power plants. with the possible exception of hydropower.000 times the amount of energy used by man annually. Even so.Another attractive property of a fossil fuel is its energy density. the devices themselves are extremely simple and easy to deploy. While the technology is advanced. Solar power Solar energy is the largest renewable resource available to the world.
In a similar way a single organic fluid can also be used. An 11MW commercial facility of this type has recently started operating near Seville in Spain. the solar trough parabolic reflector and the solar dish. so it must first be concentrated.Solar thermal power generation Sunlight reaching the surface of the earth is a mixture of infra-red visible and ultraviolet radiation. It comprises a circular parabolic reflector. Note:  It is also possible for water to be heated directly in the parabolic troughs. three different approaches to solar concentration have been developed. avoiding the need for two fluids and a heat exchanger. Though both solar tower and parabolic trough power plants are small enough to be considered for distributed generation they will generally be designed for grid-based operation. The parabolic trough plant is considered a useful type of peak load power plant because its output coincides with the high airconditioning load in places such as these western states of the US. A thermodynamic fluid is pumped through the pipe to collect the heat and the hot fluid is then passed through a heat exchanger to raise steam from water to drive a turbine. The latter is usually a Stirling engine (see Chapter 3) which is ideally suited to power generation using an external heat source. A number of parabolic trough solar thermal plants entered service in California in the late 1980s and the beginning of the 1990s. The first plant of this type to be built since then is a 1MW facility which was inaugurated in Arizona in 2006. Over the past thirty years. However the third type of solar thermal power plant. The heat storing fluid can itself be stored. allowing solar tower plants to operate both day and night. The way in which this is carried out defines the different types of solar thermal power plant. At its simplest. A 64MW plant has now started generating power in Nevada too. is well suited to DG. Parabolic trough plants employ long. A solar tower employs a field of reflectors which focus sunlight on a solar receiver at the top of a tower located at the centre of the reflector field. Each trough focuses sunlight onto a pipe running the length of the trough. Stirling engines bases systems are extremely efficient. Around 47% is infrared. the solar dish. These are the solar tower. trough-shaped parabolic reflectors instead of the heliostats of the solar tower. a solar thermal power plant is essentially a conventional steam turbine power plant but with the more normal fuel-fired boiler for generating steam to drive the turbine replaced by a system in which the heat from the sun is used to raise steam. the dish. The solar dish is a little like a tiny solar tower plant. The sunlight incident upon the earth is not sufficiently intense to raise steam directly for power generation. 44 © Business Insights Limited. at the centre of which is a heat absorber and engine.2010 . and this can be captured by solar thermal power plants in order to generate electricity. The heat collected by the receiver is used to heat a heat storing fluid (often a mixture of sodium and potassium nitrates) and this is then used to heat water and raise steam in a second part of the plant. 2000 .
000/kW appears to be the cheapest. When a photon of sunlight strikes the surface of a solar cell it will be absorbed provided it is above a certain frequency called the threshold frequency. Such an arrangement improves the capture efficiency but at the cost of much greater complexity and higher cost.500/kW . Both these effects limit the amount of energy a solar cell can capture from sunlight.000/kW$5. The earliest commercial solar cells were made of silicon and this is still the major source of photovoltaic (pV) devices. Paul Breeze. solar photovoltaic devices can only make use of the visible and ultra-violet part of the solar spectrum.are solid state devices made from a semiconductor such as silicon. making them perfect for DG applications. with an estimated cost of $2. All the lower frequencies pass through it. These are beginning to be introduced but silicon remains the dominant technology and is likely to remain so for the rest of this decade. 2006. comprising 20. Note:  See Future Renewable Power Generation Technologies.converting up to 29% of the incident solar energy into electricity. newer materials have now been developed with higher capture efficiency than silicon. It is possible to increase the efficiency of capture by using several cells with different energy thresholds in a sandwich structure. with a cost of $1.000/kW. While photons below the threshold frequency cannot be absorbed by a solar cell.$3. Business Insights. at least. photons with energies above the threshold only produce a current at a voltage equivalent to that threshold. Each absorbed photon generates a tiny electric current by energizing an electron within the material.500/kW while the parabolic dish plant. Any photon below the threshold frequency will pass through the cell unabsorbed. Solar photovoltaic power generation Solar photovoltaic devices . However. 45 © Business Insights Limited. Solar dishes are still relatively expensive. Dishes are typically 5m-15m in diameter and can generate up to 50kW of power. However they can also be deployed in large numbers to produce far larger amounts of power.000 dishes. a second cell has a lower frequency threshold and then a third cell below that has a lower threshold still. The more photons are absorbed. The current cost of a solar tower is around $2. And whereas solar thermal power plants utilize primarily the infra-red radiation from the sun.2010 . 2000 . Any additional energy contained in the photon becomes expanded as heat. There are proposals today for a 500MW power plant of this type. The top cell absorbs only high frequency light.solar cells . New technologies and economies of scale should be able to bring down the cost these technologies further but that will depend on the new round of projects leading to additional investment. Below. to be built in California by 2009. the higher the current.
production has been rising at a significant rate all this century. Annual solar cell production and cumulative capacity (MW). 2. Business Insights.536 Cumulative Total (MW) 1.145 4.256 1.815MW up 45% on 2004. 1999-2006 Annual production (MW) 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 202 395 401 562 742 1. However the 2006 production growth 46 © Business Insights Limited. Business Insights Table 5. Business Insights Note:  Future Renewable Power Generation Technologies.410 6.403 3.Annual solar cell production and cumulative capacity (MW). Paul Breeze.216 8.752MW at the end of 2006.2010 .405 1.607 2.536MW represents an increase of close to 40% over 2005's production. 2000 . 1999-2006 Source: Photon International. That year saw production of 1.815 2. 2006.13 shows figures for annual production of solar cells and the cumulative total global production which reached 8.752 Source: Photon International. The production in 2006.002 2. As the figures show.
6MW solar array is under construction in South Korea at a cost of $122. The capacity of a solar panel is typically between 5W and 200W.500 1. Provided this happens.000 2. Solar panels can be deployed in two main ways.500-3.000-5. while a 19.000 5. Cost are falling and should continue to fall as new materials enter service and economies of scale are realized. As the above figure indicates.000/kW and the cost of power from a typical domestic array in the US was $0. This makes solar cells the most costly of solar generating technologies. Utility solar arrays comprise large fields of solar panels mounted on supports which track the sun across the sky.7m ($6.000 pV modules was recently installed in Portugal. Typical costs range from $5.023/kWh in 2004. usually in the form of rechargeable batteries.000/kW to $10. Multiple panel arrays can generate megawatts of power in utility arrays 47 © Business Insights Limited. Arrays of cells are encapsulated to protect them against the weather in a unit normally known as a solar panel. solar cells are still expensive compared to other forms of power generation. Each cell produces a tiny current and voltage so multiple cells must be arranged in series and parallel to create an array.018-$0.2010 . However the high cost is counterbalanced by the simplicity of deployment.000 Source: Various sources *Typical solar panel sizes. Germany and California. The actual solar cell is only a part of a pV energy conversion system. The output from the panel is direct current so for grid connection this must be converted to ac using an electronic inverter. Comparison of solar technologies by size (MW) and cost ($/kW) Typical size Solar tower Solar parabolic Solar dish Solar pV 10-200MW 50-500MW 5-50kW 5-200W * Cost ($/kW) 2.was against a background shortage of silicon making the level of growth even more startling. 2000 . the potential for DG deployment of solar cells is vast. as rooftop panels or in large utility-sized arrays. some form of storage must be included.000-10. Such arrays are less common than rooftop panels but an 11MW array comprising 52. particularly in rooftop or small scale arrays. their low maintenance costs and long life. A solar supply of this type can only generate during the day so if round-the-clock power is required. Rooftop deployment is one of the most widespread types of DG in use today with major programs in Japan.260/kW). Completion is due in Autumn 2008.
900MW. Note:  This excludes large hydropower which.700 9. will be 160. 14.300 24.700 13. Table 5. worldwide.000 48 © Business Insights Limited.000 31.000 39.900MW of new capacity were added globally according to the World Wind Energy Association (WWEA). total installed wind capacity. an increase of 25% over 2005. lifting the global capacity to 73. 2000 .Cost comparison of solar technologies ($/kW) Source: Various sources Wind power Wind power is currently the fastest growing renewable technology by capacity. the latest predictions from the WWEA suggest that by 2010. In 2006.3 shows the annual global wind power capacity additions between 1997 and 2006. although based on a renewable source.400 17. Based on this rate of growth.000MW.2010 . Global wind capacity additions (MW) Wind capacity additions (MW) 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 7. is often not considered among renewable technologies today.
In practice the largest machines are usually used in large wind farms and DG installations employ smaller units.000 59. The largest single wind turbines have a maximum generating capacity of 5MW today. with Germany and Spain the lead developers. Global wind capacity additions (MW) Source: WWEA. Business Insights Note:  Future Renewable Power Generation Technologies. Both offshore and onshore wind farms with capacities of 100MW or more are now common while some onshore wind farms have capacities of 300MW and offshore wind farms are planned with aggregate capacities of more than 500MW. so in principle any of the available machines could be used for distributed generation. 49 © Business Insights Limited. This is also the driving force behind some of the large solar projects discussed above. Business Insights. Most of the offshore wind farms are being built in Europe with the UK planning the largest capacity.2004 2005 2006 47.900 Source: WWEA. Business Insights The growth of wind power in many developed countries is linked to legislation requiring a certain proportion of utility power to be derived from renewable sources. Europe also heads the onshore capacity league.000 73. wind power is easily adaptable to DG. Paul Breeze. 2006. and Asian countries such as China and India are beginning to add significant capacity.2010 . Like solar technologies. The US has a large capacity too. Much of this capacity is installed in large wind farms. 2000 .
Typically a domestic demand of 10kW would be met with a turbine with a rating of 5kW-15kW. More modest machines for single domestic dwellings are much smaller. This could be provided with a machine with a rotor diameter of 4m-7m. if wind generation is to make a significant contribution to grid capacity since these systems can provide support for the grid whereas the traditional approach tends to reduce overall grid stability. Note:  See The Economic Case for Domestic Wind Turbines at www. Turbine output depends on wind speed so a good wind site is necessary to make wind power economical. 2006. Smaller. Advanced methods of management are being 50 © Business Insights Limited.GreenLiving. machines of 50kW and upwards are available. For example a typical small machine with an output of 750W and a rotor diameter of around 2m will cost around £1600 ($3. Although some small wind turbines are likely to be used off-grid with a simple battery storage system. depending on average wind speed at the site.748/kW) . The intermittent nature of the wind makes the management of large wind capacities on distribution systems problematical today. These could eventually provide a significant wind capacity on distribution systems. Paul Breeze. The largest machines today have rotor diameters of 120m to provide an output of 5MW.660/kW at current exchange rates). Note:  Future Renewable Power Generation Technologies.co. Domestic machines of this size are usually mounted on tall masts.000 or $4. perhaps through a gearbox.5kW machine to supply power to a UK household put the total installed cost with batteries but without inverters at £7. Grid connected wind turbines have traditionally relied on the grid itself to regulate their frequency but modern machines are increasingly being equipped with electronic inverters that can maintain frequency control independently of the grid.200/kW ($970-1.875/kW ($5. both at the distribution and the transmission level. For small community or commercial applications. an increasing number are being grid connected. This will be particularly important. The rotor will drive a generator. The economics improve with machine size. For large onshore wind turbines of the size that might be used in a modern wind farm the cost is around Euro700-1.185 or £2.The typical modern wind turbine consists of a rotor attached to a horizontal shaft mounted at the top of a tall tower. although direct drive machines are becoming more common.uk This article suggests that a wind turbine of this size provides cost effective power. roof-mounted turbines are also available but these are unlikely to provide more than a small part of average household consumption. However they do provide an option for households seeking a renewable source of electricity. This sizing of a wind turbine for a DG application depends on a number of factors. Business Insights.000/kW) without batteries or inverters. It is unlikely that the smallest domestic wind turbines provide an economical source of power today. A recent calculation based on a 2. Output also rises with rotor size.2010 . 2000 .
however. but this figure could be a gross underestimate. mini and small . Global capacity in around 700.000MW by 2010. making the dispatching of wind power easier. The World Energy Council expects this to grow to 55. Capacity in China is growing particularly rapidly and around on half of all known small hydro capacity is now there. As a consequence such projects are often excluded from consideration as a means of meeting renewable quotas. Small hydropower categories Capacity range Micro hydropower Mini hydropower Small hydropower 1kW-100kW 100kW-1MW 1MW-10MW* Source: Business Insights *In some regions the upper limit for small hydropower is 25MW or 30MW In the developed world small hydropower is widely used as a local source of electricity where the resource is available. In the developing world. small hydropower represents an important resource both for grid connection and to supply power to small isolated communities without grid connection. Micro hydropower covers the range 1kW to 100kW.developed and wind prediction is improving. 2000 . meanwhile.micro.000MW.each range depending on generating capacity. These power plants can have capacities of tens of thousands of megawatts but the development of new large hydropower projects has become a controversial environmental issue.2010 . These are shown in Table 5. Small hydropower Hydropower is the most highly developed renewable energy resource available and the most widely exploited.000MW of 51 © Business Insights Limited. However building storage capacity is expensive and the economic arguments in its favor. Small hydropower is much less controversial and forms an important form of distributed generation in many parts of the world. The total global small hydropower capacity in 2005 was around 47. Most of this capacity is in large hydropower plants which include some of the largest power plants in the world. The best solution to this problem. Three divisions of small hydropower are normally recognized .16.000MW and this provides 17% of global electricity supply. There is probably 180. have not yet been made forcefully enough to persuade transmission and distribution system operators. remains the use of energy storage capacity to iron out the peaks and troughs of wind output. although persuasive. Mini hydropower includes plants with generating capacities from 100kW to 1MW while 1MW to 10MW plants are classified as small hydropower.
For large hydropower plants there are three main types and the choice depends on the head of water available. Whichever scheme is employed. This latter type of project does not require a dam. Medium head plants employ Francis turbines while low head sites usually use a type of propeller turbine.) However the turbine choice will be based on similar design considerations. S D B Taylor and D Upadhyay. Sometimes grants will be available to help with such 52 © Business Insights Limited. however. Where this is the case it is necessary to carry out a feasibility study to ascertain what the flow is and how it varies with the seasons. Small hydropower schemes can be installed at a wide variety of sites. Business Insights. there will be some civil engineering work required though this are generally small in scale compared to that for a large hydropower project. the nature of a site and the flow of water to be expected is not so well known. (The turbines for large projects are usually designed specially to suit the particular site. For high heads of water the optimum choice is a Pelton turbine. Issue 3. Note:  Future Renewable Power Generation Technologies. Small hydro technology A small hydropower plant may use a dam to block a river and create a head of water or it may rely on a run-of-river design in which the river flow is simply diverted into the hydro turbine and then returned to the river. without one a project may end up failing. small hydro generation is possible.unexploited small hydro capacity remaining according to the European Small Hydro Association. The key technical element of a hydropower plant is the turbine. However they can be extremely expensive. 2005. Turbines of all types for small projects are normally off-the-shelf units to keep costs down. Feasibility studies are essential. Hydropower and Dams. 2000 . Small streams can provide sufficient power for a single dwelling while water supply conduits often provide ideal opportunities for power generation. Indeed wherever there is flowing water. Note:  Sustainable markets for small hydro in developing countries. 2006. These can be readily exploited with simple small hydro designs. Similar turbines are available for small hydro projects but these are supplemented by a wide range of designs aimed specifically at small projects. p62. More normally. In fact in the worst cases the cost could account for 50% of total project expense.2010 . Small hydro costs Some sites such as conduits from reservoirs carry entirely predictable and well characterized flows of water. Paul Breeze.
The barrage contains sluice gates which allow the tide to flow in. Smaller sites may also be cost effective but there has so far been little development of either. Projects with costs at the top end of this range may be difficult to justify economically. small hydro projects range in price from $800/kW to $6. These technologies will be given a brief treatment here. At others there may already be some site documentation as part of a national survey of hydropower resources. The construction of a tidal barrage is a major civil engineering project and this is the most expensive part of any tidal power plant. So while costs for hydro plants of 1. Tidal power stations are generally considered expensive to build and sites with large potential generating capacities are often sought. Korea and China. tidal energy. while intermittent. These include the west coast of Great Britain and France.000/kW. is extremely predictable and reliable. Tidal power stations usually use low-head propeller turbines built into a tidal barrage across a river or inlet. Marine technologies Oceans and seas provide a number of sources of energy which can be harnessed to generate electricity. Of these there are three. when sufficiently high. just like hydropower plants.000MW and more are in the range $700/kW-$1. The rise and fall of the tide causes a movement of water in coastal estuaries and inlets which can be exploited to generate electricity using hydro turbines. Tidal plants are expected to have long lives. Tidal power is a form of hydropower and so the technology is well developed but the other two are new technologies and both remain in the development stage. However it is worth bearing in mind that hydropower projects can have extremely long lives. 2000 . parts of the Canadian coastline and coastal regions in India. All are extremely site specific. more remotely. An effective site for a tidal power plant requires a large difference between high and low tide. At high tide the sluice gates are closed and as the tide recedes a head of water builds up behind the barrage which. This means that small hydro costs are extremely site specific. 53 © Business Insights Limited. making it one of the most attractive of renewable sources from a dispatcher's point of view.500/kW.studies. wave energy and tidal stream generation which might have some limited distributed generation applications. There are various regions where large tidal reaches can be found. Tidal energy Tidal energy is derived from the tidal motion of the earth's oceans and seas caused by the gravitational attraction of the moon and. However tidal energy. Output can be increased by reversing the turbines during the tidal flow to pump water across the barrage near high tide. If this is taken into consideration then a high initial expense may be justifiable. and this should improve their economics. of the sun. often more than 50 years. is used to generate power by running water through the turbines.2010 .
Estimates made in the UK during the 1990s. Most wave devices have generating capacities of less than one megawatt. the better the wave regime on the facing shore. given the civil works involved. In this case the relative movement of the floats is the means to extract energy. some of which look promising. Note:  See Future Renewable Power Generation Technologies. There are one or two that can be constructed with inherently larger capacities. costs are high and predictions of reduced costs should be treated with caution.228/kW.000/kW while more recent UK estimates put the cost at £2. Business Insights. The South Korean plant. 2006.200/kW ($4.000/kW. based on two proposed projects. Some are shore based and use the rising and falling water level caused by waves to create an oscillating column of air within a chamber sealed at one end by the sea. has been costed at $312m. There are also floating. Since wave power is still in the development stage. untethered devices which consist of several. Paul Breeze. the cost of local labor. 2000 . offshore. Wave energy devices to extract the energy from ocean waves have been under development since the 1970s but have made no commercial impact. implying a cost of $1. contain energy that can be harnessed with special wave energy devices to produce electricity. These can be aggregated to create larger generating capacities.2010 . devices comprise a float which is tethered to the sea bed. the largest proposed so far has a capacity of 50MW. caused by the effect of wind across the surface of open expanses of water. suggested a cost of around $2. This station is expected to begin generating in 2009. jointed floats. Wave energy Sea and ocean waves. Current costs for most technologies are probably in the region of $5.The largest tidal power plant in existence is a 240MW plant in France built in 1966. The cost of a tidal power plant will depend very much on the site and. Other. The wider the expanse of water over which the wind can blow. A special turbine at the other end is driven by the moving air. However the early years of this century has seen a new blossoming of research and a myriad new devices have appeared. Thus from a practical perspective they will virtually all be DG. above.400/kW). In these devices the movement of the float up and down with the passage of waves is converted into electrical energy. or more. for sources for these costs. 54 © Business Insights Limited. Wave energy devices employ a range of different principles to extract energy. A new plant with a capacity of 254MW is under construction in South Korea. By their nature all these devices are limited to coastal regions and this means that they will almost inevitably be connected to a distribution rather than a transmission network.
with a generating capacity of 300kW typical. The technology for these units is similar to that used in wind turbines.000 5. 2000 . The high energy density also means that smaller turbines can be used under water than those employed to capture wind energy.000 1. capacity (kW/MW) and cost ($/kW) Typical capacity Solar dish Solar pV Onshore wind Small hydro Tidal Wave Ocean stream 5-50kW 5-200W 1kW-5MW 1kW-10MW 1-10. These currents can. in principle.2MW project due to be completed in Northern Ireland in 2007.000 5.200-4.000-5. so slow currents can supply a significant amount of energy. This is the principle of ocean stream generation.2010 . Units with rotor diameters of 10-15m could generate up to 700kW each. Tidal stream technology is relatively recent and no full scale demonstration projects have yet been built though a number of prototypes have been tested successfully. these generating units will all be located in coastal regions and if the technology becomes successful they will be connected to coastal distribution systems since national transmission line backbones are rarely extend to coasts.000 800-6. Prototypes have generally been small. the technology can also be used in rivers and estuaries.000-10. Prototype costs are around $12.000 12. be exploited in the same way as wind currents are exploited. the motion of the tides also sets up currents around coastal features in many parts of the world. The energy density found in flowing water is much higher than that of air.000/kW.000 1. Comparison of distributed generation technologies Renewable distributed generation technology comparison. there are a number of ocean stream prototypes and designs which use vertical axis turbines.Ocean (tidal) stream generation In addition to the movement of seawater in and out of estuaries and inlets. by using underwater turbines. As with wave power plants. The largest planned scheme is a 1. In theory.000MW 50kW-50MW 100kW-5MW Cost ($/kW) 2.000-4. While most wind turbines in use today are horizontal axis designs.000 Source: ee above 55 © Business Insights Limited.
Renewable distributed generation technology cost comparison ($/kW) Source: ee above 56 © Business Insights Limited.2010 . 2000 .
Technologies based on the combustion of fossil fuel generate atmospheric emissions. Distributed generation based on fossil fuel combustion The principle issue associated with the combustion of fossil fuel for power generation is that of atmospheric emissions. The rate of emission from fossil fuel plants burning the same fuel depends on their efficiency. Renewable technologies are generally more benign environmentally but hydropower plants can affect river flows and wind turbines may be visually intrusive. The rules covering how a DG system is connected to the grid will often affect its viability while the ease with which it can export power to the grid and gain a reasonable return for that power will help or hinder greater DG integration.2010 . However it will look at how spreading capacity of one type might be expected to change its environmental impact compared to the same capacity at a central power plant.Environmental and legislative issues Introduction The various technologies discussed in the previous three chapters each has an impact on the environment although the nature of that impact varies from technology to technology. The emission of carbon dioxide is of greatest concern today. This report will not look at the environmental effects of each technology in detail. A more 57 © Business Insights Limited. All fossil fuel power plants generate carbon dioxide but coal combustion creates more than the combustion of natural gas. These and other issues which need to be addressed if the full benefits of DG are to be gained are discussed below. 2000 . There are also a number of legislative issues affecting distributed generation. All types can disrupt the natural habitat of the power plant site and the movement of materials during construction or for fuel delivery will spread that effect wider. It will also consider environmental issues which relate to DG itself. These effects are characteristics of the technologies themselves and they apply to large central power stations as well as to small distributed generation units of the same type. independent of the type of generating technology being used.
before the US Senate Subcommittee on Science. Technology and Innovation of the Committee on Commerce. Efficiencies of fossil fuel generating technologies (%) % efficiency Phosphoric acid fuel cell Solid oxide fuel cell Molten carbonate fuel cell Spark ignition gas engine Diesel Microturbine Stirling engine Small gas turbine Large gas combined cycle Large gas turbine Average US coal boiler (1998) Average US Fossil (1998) 36 47 54 28-42 20-48 30-35 30-40 24-38 50 39 33 33 Source: ee Chapters 3 and 4. though of course the latter is a new technology and still in development. As they show.) Among the DG technologies diesel engines with up to 48% efficiency and molten carbonate fuel cells with 54% offer the best performance. Table 6. the most efficient widely used technology today is the combined cycle power plant with an efficiency of around 50%. Chief Operating Officer.efficient plant will produce less carbon dioxide for each unit of energy.18 collects figures for the efficiencies of the main fossil fuel technologies discussed here. Siemens Environmental Systems and Services. 58 © Business Insights Limited.2010 . 2007. (The latest units claim up to 60%. April 26. 2000 . Science and Transportation. Siemens Note:  Prepared Statement of John M Wilson. Siemens Power Generation.
it is clear that virtually all the DG technologies can provide better performance. Of course not all DG installations generate heat as well as power but many do and in most cases there will be scope for CHP which is not available to central power plants. At the other end of the scale. diesel engines produce large amounts of nitrogen oxides and this is reflected in the table.19 shows typical emission figures for a range of different technologies. they are still largely applicable today and have the further merit of being consistent with one another. emissions are significant. As noted in Chapter 3. Among these. The control of nitrogen oxides is required in many parts of the world and technologies for removing them from exhaust gases have been developed. Even when controlled with SCR. Siemens When the efficiencies of the individual technologies are compared with the average US fossil fuel efficiency (around 33% in 2007. Table 6. the DG technologies provide a very significant advantage over central power plants of whatever type. fuel cells offer the best performance of all the technologies 59 © Business Insights Limited. Here.Efficiencies of fossil fuel generating technologies (%) Source: ee Chapters 3 and 4. are produced by all fossil fuel plants but the amounts vary considerably with the technology. 2000 . pushing efficiencies to 70-90%. selective catalytic reduction (SCR) is the most important for DG technologies. lies one of the main advantages of DG. On this basis. The US has a large fossil fuel fleet (providing around 50% of US output) which is relatively inefficient but similar fleets can be found in many parts of the world.2010 . DG might provide some small improvement in carbon dioxide emissions. then. Other emissions are also of concern when considering fossil fuel combustion. Although these figures are based on a 2000 paper. associated with acid rain and smog production. However when cogeneration is taken into account. as it was in 1998). Nitrogen oxides.
2010 .027 0.186 0.681 0. Microturbines also perform well.556 Source: Energy and Environmental Analysis. Joel Bluestein. followed by gas engines with SCR.005 0. Nitrogen oxides emissions from fossil fuel units (g/MWh) Emissions (g/MWh) Solid oxide fuel cell Phosphoric acid fuel cell Lean burn gas engine Rich burn gas engine with SCR Uncontrolled diesel Diesel with SCR Microturbine Small gas turbine Large gas combined cycle (with SCR) Large gas turbine Average US coal boiler (1998) Average US Fossil (1998) Average US power generation (1998) 0.295 1. 2000 60 © Business Insights Limited.250 2.014 0. Energy and Environmental Analysis. Inc Note:  Environmental Benefits of Distributed Generation. but combined cycle power plants with SCR can achieve very low emission figures too.454 3.540 2. 2000 .939 0. Inc.listed.467 0.385 2.
Distributed generation based on renewable technologies The renewable technologies discussed in this report produce negligible quantities of atmospheric emissions. the overall level of emissions per unit of energy production will fall. The US average figure is again heavily weighted by the large coal-fired fleet. Diesel units can produce high levels of particulate emissions. For this reason either gas engines or dual fuel engines are generally preferred to diesel engines for DG in situations where a stationary engine is the most suitable technology.Nitrogen oxides emissions from fossil fuel units (g/MWh) Source: Energy and Environmental Analysis. 2000 . the use of DG will generally reduce sulfur emissions.diesel engines rate badly.nitrogen oxides and particulates . does produce emissions but these normally compare favorably with those from fossil fuel 61 © Business Insights Limited. Inc When the emissions from the DG technologies are compared with the average from all US power generation. Since there are no DG technologies that burn coal. it is clear that all apart from diesel engines can provide significantly better performance. Of the other major atmospheric emissions. And when heat production is added. more even than coal-fired power plants. therefore . On two counts. sulfur dioxide is only an issue with coalfired power plants.2010 . Biomass. but the same arguments apply as above. again favoring the DG technologies over the central plants where CHP is not normally possible. which has not been addressed in any detail.
As a consequence all tidal projects require careful environmental impact studies to assess their likely effect. The effect of wind turbines on birds is another issue that is often raised. Small schemes rarely use dams. though barrages are not uncommon. visually. there seems no obvious reason why their introduction should be impeded. In addition.2010 . biomass is carbon dioxide neutral. seem to attract little environmental disapprobation even though rooftop arrays are rarely architecturally attractive additions. making it environmentally attractive as a means of reducing greenhouse gas emissions. A small hydro scheme is unlikely to be very intrusive. However they might affect fish movements. though this is less common. 2000 . This must always be taken into consideration. solar cells. Tidal stream and wave power plants appear to be less intrusive but their impact cannot be fully assessed until some significant capacity has been demonstrated. Normally the best schemes will avoid any major impact. Small turbines incorporated into water supply conduits should have no significant effect. Onshore wind farms often attract very unfavorable attention because they are seen as being visually intrusive. The environmental impact of a hydropower plant is physically relatively benign. Run-of-river schemes should have little downstream effect either. Given that they are not much larger that the largest satellite dishes. 62 © Business Insights Limited. Solar dishes. However if a scheme is built on a small river or stream it can have an impact. Building designs that incorporate solar panels from the start are generally more architecturally pleasing and modern commercial buildings can incorporate solar panels very effectively. In some cases even offshore developments have been affected. Tidal power plants which involve a barrage across a tidal estuary can have a major effect on the local environment. Most studies have found little detrimental effect but public opinion is often driven by anecdotal evidence which is usually negative. The main solar form of DG. the other main candidate for DG. but if water is diverted into a turbine before being returned to the river it might affect flow along a short stretch of a waterway. The environmental issues surrounding renewable technologies tend to be of a different nature. This has become a particular problem in the UK where many projects have been halted or stalled as a result of local objections of this sort. have been too little used to judge how they are likely to be received in either urban or rural environments.power plants. These create a small head of water but do not massively interrupt the flow of water down a waterway. This could have consequences locally as well as affecting movements of marine animals. What is more important is its effect on water flows.
again reducing overall demand. particularly of carbon dioxide. Today they are usually decided by a local distribution company or utility. Consuming power at the point at which it is generated reduces transmission and distribution losses significantly. Being by nature distributed.2010 . Domestic. Ideally standards for DG connection should be at worst nationally regulated. distributed generation offers the potential for some form of cogeneration in which waste heat from the DG power plant can be used for hot water. 63 © Business Insights Limited. Where distributed generation is encouraged. 2000 . This will be of benefit whether the displaced capacity is fossil-fuel based or renewable. these technologies are easily deployed at a small scale.The environmental impact of distributed generation The main advantage of distributed generation over centralized generation is the increase in efficiency which it brings. This forces the suppliers of equipment to provide different solutions for different regions. many renewable technologies are encouraged too. Some of these barriers are a product of the self-interest of existing suppliers of electricity. And although these may be based on common technical standards such as those recommended by the Institute of Electrical Engineers they are not always so. Where this is implemented the re-used waste heat will displace another source of energy. renewable DG capacity will grow. This means that less power need be generated. It can be expected that where both the facilities and the legislation to permit use of distributed generation are in place. This will tend to reduce overall atmospheric emissions resulting from electricity generation. However all need to be addressed if full advantage is to be taken of DG. commercial and many small industrial sites do use both. In the specific case of fossil-fuel based power generation. from a maximum of 50% today for a typical large gas turbine combined cycle power plant to 80% or even 90% with some technologies. increasing costs. At the level of the individual user there are often no common national (or in some cases local) rules and standards for connecting a distributed generation unit to the local distribution network. Legislative issues There are a number of barriers to the widespread introduction and exploitation of DG at both an individual user and a network level. leading to smaller overall generating capacity for a given demand. others may relate to regulations introduced with liberalization of the electricity market. CHP leads to a dramatic increase in overall efficiency of energy usage. However large central power plants can rarely find an outlet for their waste heat. space heating or for process heat. The use of combined heat and power depends on there being a demand for heat as well as electricity.
both during normal operation and under fault conditions. there should be national rules governing how much a network operator can charge for connecting a DG unit and the way net metering is operated.2010 . If those consumers generate their own electricity then the large generator loses revenue. therefore. 2000 . The only was to resolve this conflict is to allow both generators and transmission and distribution system operators to play some part in distributed generation. Conflict of interest Another major area of contention arises from the conflict of interest between large scale generators and transmission and distribution system operators on the one hand and potential users of DG on the other.Note:  The IEEE approved Technical Standard 1547 in 2003 which applies to the connection of distributed generation units of 10MW and less. Unfortunately it is too easy for local service suppliers to use these issues to resist the introduction of DG instead of working towards a solution of them. DG reduces that volume and so reduces these companies' revenue streams. Regulations need to allow such generators to sell directly to a local energy supply company or consumer. A similar argument applies to transmission and distribution system operators. In a liberalized market where energy is bought and sold centrally it can be difficult for small generators to sell their power into the market. Today some suppliers may also demand a premium for supplying backup power to a consumer which normally relies on its own power supply but which may need support from the local grid in times of difficulty. Good standards ensure that DG units can be operated safely. These issues can either deter consumers from introducing DG or force them to operate their units in such a way that the maximum benefit cannot be derived. 64 © Business Insights Limited. either by operating DG capacity themselves on behalf of consumers or in the case of the distribution system operator by adapting the way the network is operated to take advantage of the DG capacity locally available. There are serious network operational issues relating to the connection of DG units to the network and the effects they may have. These generators. Note:  Net metering is the term used to describe the charges for power when a user both buys power from a network and feeds power back into it. The cost of interconnection and the tariff applied to power fed back into the grid are other contentious issues. However legislation introduced to ensure a fair electricity market often prevents the companies operating in this way. again. have no reason to encourage DG. Ideally. These companies derive their revenue from the amount of electricity passing through the wires that make up their system. Large scale generators generate revenue by selling electricity to consumers. Otherwise it may simply prove too costly to sell the surplus electricity and the capacity will effectively be lost.
is likely to require distribution networks to be managed actively. so change can be expected. Fortunately these issues are persistent and DG now has a number of vocal advocates. 2000 . There are ways around these problems but they involve major changes in the way resource planning is carried out. in turn. But once the investment has been made. Australia. Capacity planning Another major issue relates to capacity planning. Equally.Where this is the case. or likely to exist in the future. That builds inertia into the decision-making process. The consequence of this is that more central generating capacity is built and more investment is made in transmission and distribution networks that is perhaps necessary. None of these issues are insurmountable but virtually all require government intervention. on a network. need to assess the potential for DG as well as expected demand. the investors are keen to protect their investment and ensure it reaps the expected returns. Network operators. DG is often invisible. This. From the perspective of utilities and system operators. The likely result is a reluctance to admit DG when it does present itself. An approach of this type was introduced during restructuring of the electricity sector in New South Wales. when trying to determine future demand and how to meet it. Most resource planning be it for future generating capacity of future network capacity is carried out centrally and in isolation from any DG existing.2010 . 65 © Business Insights Limited. Systems then need to be introduced to enable active encouragement of DG where it would be economical. but that remains an exception. Currently it is not considered dispatchable either. ways need to be found to amend the legislation without distorting the operation of the market. The net result is that the development of DG is hindered. as was discussed in Chapter 2. decisions about transmission and distribution system upgrading are usually taken without consideration of the likely impact of DG. so planning for future demand completely ignores DG.
The economics of distributed power generation Introduction The economics of DG depend very much upon the application for which it is to be considered. Nevertheless is should provide a significant improvement of the overall economics in favor of DG. Should the DG unit be large enough to sell power back to the grid or should it simply be sized to suit the local demand? Net metering and the export of power to the grid is a complication for all consumers considering a DG installation. Can a DG installation produce electricity more cheaply than it costs the consumer to buy from the local grid and if so. to receive any economic reward as a result? That would appear to be a regulatory issue. But without hard figures it will be impossible to assess what the network benefits of DG should be worth. Even so there is still the question of sizing. It may also improve the local quality of supply by reducing peak demand and in some cases offer improved grid stability. In this case it becomes necessary to evaluate the losses associated with a supply failure against the cost of a DG installation. But beyond all these issues there is the further question of estimating the value of DG to the grid itself. In many cases the quality of supply will be so crucial an issue that there is no question of operating without a local supply. The installation of DG generating capacity can defer the need for additional central capacity and it can defer investment in transmission and distribution system improvement. And much will depend on the local regulations controlling connection of a DG system. the lack of models and systems for incorporating DG means that the results of such studies tend to be inconclusive. The addition of CHP is likely to make the assessment of economic viability less clear. It is less easy to assess the situation where DG is being installed to provide security of supply because the local supply is insufficiently reliable. 2000 . And while such studies as have been carried out indicate that there could be overall economic benefits of greater DG. Fortunately 66 © Business Insights Limited. Is the DG operator. though the full benefits of the latter are unlikely to be reaped until active distribution network operation in introduced. DG should lead to global savings (though they might impinge on network and central generator earnings too). the consumer. If the aim is simply to generate cheap electricity then the equation is relatively simple. is the difference sufficiently large to make this a worthwhile investment with adequate returns? Where there is a demand for heat and the possibility of CHP that must be taken into account too.2010 .
where generation.08-£0. Trends and Market Forecast for Stationary Fuel Cell Power Systems. Table 7. March 2007. However this power is sold in the retail market for between $0.the cost of DG to a consumer considering installation of a system is easier to discover. 67 © Business Insights Limited. The value of electricity in the UK market (£/kWh) Value (£/kWh) Central generation Transmission HV distribution MV distribution LV distribution 0. It is to that subject that the rest of this chapter is devoted.045/kWh while combined cycle plants produce it for $0.05 0.07 0.2010 .022/kWh. Coal-fired power stations generate power in the US for $0.03 0.080/kWh. however.03/kWh.08-0.10 Source: DTI Centre for Distributed Generation and Sustainable Electrical Energy Note:  Integration of Distributed Generation into the UK Power System.04-0. Once again this is an increase of up to four times.20 shows some similar figures but this time relating to the UK market.044-0. transmission and distribution are owned by the same entity. Presented at Ohio Fuel Cell Symposium. The figures are derived from a graph and should be taken as indicating approximate ranges for each technology. How much does it cost the consumer. DTI Centre for Distributed Generation and Sustainable Electrical Energy.02-0.10/kWh. By the time it reaches the consumer. 2000 . the price of power will rise as it passes from generator to consumer unless a social tariff is imposed by government. This will depend on the type of consumer and the size of demand. The cost of electricity The first part of the economic equation relates to the price of grid electricity. Dan Rastler.04 0. the price has risen to £0. In a vertically integrated system. The cost of generating electricity in the UK is around £0. This represents a markup of as much as four times the cost of generation. will deal with a local electricity supply company or a distribution company.03-0. In a liberalized market. Goran Strbac.02-0. Most consumers. Summary Report.05-0. Note:  These figures are derived from Status. May 2005. this company will buy electricity at wholesale prices and sell it on the retail market at a higher price.070/kWh and $0. Very large consumers may be able to negotiate directly with a generator in order to buy electricity at a premium rate. however.060-$0. Charlotte Ramsay and Danny Pudjianto. Electric Power Research Institute.
However in the situation prevalent in most market-based systems today. Summary Report.04/kWh-0. Depending on the point at which is connected to the system. as noted above.20). It can also be argued that this is the value of electricity generated by a DG system to the grid. Extending this argument. 2000 . the DG is forced to compete with power generated by central plants and valued at £0.03/kWh. As the figures above indicate.020. MV or LV in Table 7. Goran Strbac. this sets the cost below which a DG system must generate electricity if it is to be competitive with the grid. DG is introduced at the distribution levels in this chain (HV. March 2007. Note:  For a more extended discussion of this issue see Integration of Distributed Generation into the UK Power System.2010 .The value of electricity in the UK market (£/kWh) Source: DTI Centre for Distributed Generation and Sustainable Electrical Energy Part of this price increase relates to the margins added by the operators at each stage in the chain. This suggests that if DG is to be fully integrated. Another part relates to the losses that take place as the electricity is moved from generator to consumer. a DG system does not have to compete with central generation costs to be economically viable. DTI Centre for Distributed Generation and Sustainable Electrical Energy.10/kWh. their income. then some significant changes are required to the way the network is regulated. Charlotte Ramsay and Danny Pudjianto. full integration of DG into the transmission and distribution system would reward the DG operator at a rate based on this value. A small 68 © Business Insights Limited. where electricity is valued at £0. Distributed generation installation costs The cost of electricity provides the benchmark against which DG generation systems should be evaluated economically.
They are also the cheapest.domestic installation. Fossil fuel DG installations are the most common in use today.000/kW and the best estimate for the cost of a MCFC suggests $3.000$20.000 10. fuel cells are still under development and their costs reflect this. The first is the installation cost. However the SOFC remains extremely expensive at $10. These figures will be discussed first. Distributed generation installation costs Typical capacity Piston engine Gas turbine Microturbine Stirling engine PAFC PEMFC MCFC SOFC 1kW-65MW 500kW-340MW 20-500kW 1-50kW 5-400kW 4-200kW 40-2.000/kW before installation. 2000 .000-5. for example. with bare unit costs of $200/kW to $800/kW. With the exception of the PAFC.000/kWh. This provides an idea of the capital outlay that will be necessary to install a DG system of a particular type and size.100/kW.2010 .500 5. it is useful to look at two sets of figures.000 4. However Stirling engine systems are still expensive with a typical price range of $2. though in the case of piston engines. Current estimates put the cost of a PAFC fuel cell system before installation at around $4. In this case installation increases the cost by perhaps 10% since the unit is already packaged.400kW 5-125 Cost ($/kW) 300-900 200-800 700-1.000/kW to $5. Installation will increase this cost by between 200% and 240% depending on the type of system. Table 7.500/kW. A microturbine is fairly competitive too. Normally the price ranges reflect this with smaller units commanding the higher prices.000$5. 3 and 4. which will add a further 50% to 100% to the cost. A PEMFC today costs around $5. In evaluating the different types of DG technology. Some of these technologies are available in maximum sizes that are much larger than those used for DG applications.100 2. A piston engine-based system is likely to cost between $300/kW and $900/kW before installation.21 shows the installation costs and the typical sizes for all the DG technologies discussed in Chapters 2. These costs represent pilot or demonstration project prices and will fall with time. The second set of figures relates to the cost of electricity from each technology. with package costs of $700/kW to $1.000 69 © Business Insights Limited. is in reality competing with the retail cost of electricity which can be up to four times the generation cost. They will be addressed below.000-5. Gas turbines are even cheaper.000/kWh.000-20.000 3. the smallest are also the cheapest.
Costs for wave power.000 1.200/kW to $4. Among the renewable technologies. When choosing a DG technology.000/kW. Typical costs range from $5. International Energy Agency.000 12.000/kW. The most popular solar technology.000 1.000/kW with the lower price for the largest machines. 2002. A small hydro power plant can be built for $800/kW-$6. 2000 .000/kW to $4. is still expensive. A fossil-fuel based system. Such plants are extremely site specific and the upper end of the scale of costs reflects this.000-4. and tidal stream. Tidal power is the cheapest with an estimated price range of $1.000/kW.000 Source: ee earlier chapters The data in the table above generally refers to bare unit costs before installation except in the case of the microturbine and PAFC which are package costs. $5. when comparing renewable and fossil fuel technologies that a renewable generator requires no fuel and the installation cost represents most of the investment. in contrast.000/kW.000 5. Note:  Distributed Generation in Liberalised Electricity Markets.000 800-6. Even so solar thermal generation does appear to be cheaper than solar pV today. particularly at a remote site where the cost of transporting fuel is likely to be high. It is important to remember.000-$5. too.000MW 50kW-50MW 100kW-5MW 2.000-5. Costs for marine technologies should also be treated with caution. will require a continuous supply of fuel and this will account for 50% to 80% of the total cost of electricity from the unit according to the IEA.000 5.000/kW.000/kW but these costs should be treated with caution as the technology is still not fully commercial.000/kW to $10. The availability of a renewable source of energy may be the deciding factor. solar pV.Solar dish Solar pV Onshore wind Small hydro Tidal Wave Ocean stream 5-50kW 5-200W 1kW-5MW 1kW-10MW 1-10.2010 . Onshore wind technology has fallen significantly in price during the past five years and turbine costs are now in the range $1.200-4. small hydro and onshore wind are the most competitive. are extrapolated from prototypes. Solar dishes appear to be slightly cheaper at $2. However this will be extremely site sensitive and there are too few small tidal plants in existence to place much reliability on price estimates. $12. installed cost may not be the most important factor.000-10. 70 © Business Insights Limited.
07/kWh while a smaller 5MW system generates for $0.13/kWh.05-0.27/kWh broadly similar to the cost from diesel units.14-0. A 40MW system can generate power for $0.07 0. As might be expected.22 presents costs for a range of DG technologies derived from a 2005 Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) presentation.32 0.08-0. 2000 .16-$0.17-0. a microturbine might be cost effective.05-$0.18 0. On top of that is the cost of financing loans to purchase the equipment and the cost of operation and maintenance. particularly where that cost is volatile as the cost of natural gas has been in recent years.Cost of electricity The cost of electricity from a power generating system depends not only on the installation cost but on a range of other costs too.09 0. Dan Rastler.06-0.90-$0.18/kWh for a 30kW unit.08-$0.5MW Diesel engine 500kW Diesel engine 80kW Microturbine with CHP 30kW Microturbine with CHP 200kW PAFC with CHP 0. When CHP is excluded. Cost of electricity from distributed generation technologies ($/kWh) Cost ($/kWh) 5MW Combustion Turbine with CHP 40MW Combustion Turbine with CHP 1MW Natural gas engine with CHP 100kW Natural Gas Engine with CHP 1.06$0.12-$0. a gas turbine based CHP system offers the cheapest electricity.2010 . Electric Power Research Institute. Presented at Ohio Fuel Cell Symposium. When all these are put together and averaged out over the lifetime of the plant.09/kWh while for a 100kW unit the generation cost is $0. Trends and Market Forecast for Stationary Fuel Cell Power Systems.17-0. rising to $0. An 80kW unit with CHP can produce power for $0.12-0. The figures are derived from a graph and should be taken as indicating approximate ranges for each technology.11 0. May 2005. a 1MW unit can provide electricity for $0.09-0.13-0. A natural gas engine of 1MW (not in the table) would generate electricity for $0.11/kWh.15 0.34/kWh and the price does not change significantly for a 500kW unit. an expected cost of electricity can be calculated. For smaller installations a gas engine with CHP is competitive.13-$0. For fossil-fuel fired systems the cost of fuel is perhaps the most important consideration.13 0. Power from a 1.34 0.5MW diesel unit without CHP costs $0. Table 7. Where an even smaller system is required.24 71 © Business Insights Limited.17-$0. the cost of generation rises. Note:  These figures are derived from Status.15/kWh. A 40MW system is a large DG installation.
150kW MCFC with CHP 200kW PAFC 10kW PEMFC 250kW MCFC 500kW Solar pV 5kW Solar pV 10kW Wind turbine Source: EPRI
0.15-0.26 0.59-1.33 0.65-1.55 0.64-1.47 0.14-0.37 0.27-0.68 0.14-0.36
Note:  These figures are derived from Status, Trends and Market Forecast for Stationary Fuel Cell Power Systems, Dan Rastler, Electric Power Research Institute. Cost of electricity from distributed generation technologies ($/kWh)
Source: EPRI The figures above suggest that fuel cells, while not yet competitive, are approaching competitiveness. A 200kW PAFC with CHP produces electricity for $0.14-$0.24/kWh and a 150kW MCFC with CHP for £0.15-$0.26/kWh. However the fuel cell without CHP is uncompetitive with generating costs for PAFC, PEMFC and MCFC all around $0.6/kWh or more.
72 © Business Insights Limited, 2000 - 2010
Table 7.22 contains figures for only a limited range of renewable technologies. A 10kW wind turbine has generation costs of $0.14-$0.36/kWh, very competitive considering the unit size. Meanwhile a 5kW pV system provides power for $0.270.68/kWh. For a 500kW system, the costs fall to $0.14-$0.37/kWh. Further costs for renewable technologies are shown in Table 7.23. These are collected from a variety of sources and cannot be compared directly with those in Table 7.22. However they do provide some insight into the relative costs of different renewable systems. From the figures in this table it is clear than onshore wind offers the most competitive renewable source of electricity with generation costs of $0.06$0.09/kWh. These figures refer to unit sizes significantly larger than the one used in Table 7.3 and broadly reflect the generation costs from large wind turbines today. Further costs of electricity from distributed generation technologies ($/kWh) Cost ($/kWh) Piston engine (gas) Solar dish Solar pV Onshore wind Small hydro Tidal Wave 0.13-0.15 0.10-0.17* 0.18-0.23 0.06-0.09 0.08-0.18 0.08-0.23 0.32-0.51
Source: EU Ocean Energy Association, Business Insights, EPRI, Texas Cooperative * Solar dish generation costs are not widely available but it has been speculated that the US utility Southern California Edison will pay less than $0.113/kWh for power from a proposed solar dish project in the state. Costs for smaller or single dish installations would be higher. These are total energy costs from 2005 including O&M and financing Small hydro can also offer a cheap source of electricity, with costs ranging from $0.08/kWh to $0.18/kWh. The costs quoted in the table for tidal, solar dish and wave generation are rather more speculative and should be treated with caution. It is worth noting, however, that large scale solar thermal power generation is beginning to appear cost effective and solar dish technology, though expensive, has a high efficiency which could make it attractive in the future. When the costs in Table 7.22 and Table 7.23 are compared to the retail cost of electricity in the US, $0.07/kWh-$0.22/kWh, it becomes clear that many of these technologies can undercut the highest retail cost of power. Of course, this will depend very much on location but it appears to offer the flexibility and range of opportunities for all the DG technologies to thrive and grow.
73 © Business Insights Limited, 2000 - 2010
An illustration of the typical possibilities offered by DG outside the US is provided by an example from a UK website which promotes green energy and which has attempted to evaluate the economics of wind power for domestic use. The calculation is based on a family with a demand of 4kW, utilizing a 2.5kW wind turbine and assuming an average wind speed of 6m/sec. Costs include battery storage but no inverter. Over a twenty year life, the estimated cost of electricity is £0.084/kWh. Note:  The Economic Case for Domestic Wind Turbines, James Lea, updated 2006. See www.GreenLiving.co.uk It should be borne in mind that this web site promotes green energy. Since the cost of electricity in the UK is typically £0.09/kWh-£0.10/kWh, the small wind turbine appears to be just about cost effective. Whether the investment of £7,185 excluding any maintenance costs, represents a sound economic outlay might be questionable but it is probably cheap enough to persuade a household keen to improve its green credentials. Such small wind turbines are aimed at individuals concerned about the environment and prepared to invest in renewable energy whether it is cost effective or not. But the economics of DG of all types suggest that there are a now whole range of possibilities available where electricity production is economically viable.
74 © Business Insights Limited, 2000 - 2010
The outlook for distributed power generation
Earlier chapters of this report have outlined the technologies for distributed generation applications. These chapters have shown that there are a wide range of technologies already available including conventional fossil-fuel based generation systems such as gas turbines or gas engines and renewable technologies such as wind, solar photovoltaic and small hydro. Other technologies, including fuel cells and further types of renewable generation are under development. The last chapter examined the cost of these distributed generation systems and the expected cost of electricity from distributed generation installations. This showed that the established technologies can generate electricity at a cost below that of grid delivered electricity under many circumstances today. As a result, many companies and individuals already use distributed generation in both domestic and commercial environments. However as Chapter 6 indicated, there are still barriers to the integration of DG into a local distribution system in most countries. How will the market for DG evolve?
The effect of market liberalization and policy initiatives
Electricity liberalization is now a fact of life in many parts of the world and in theory the liberalization of an electricity market should encourage the use of distributed generation. The point of market liberalization is to increase competition and the possibility of additional DG capacity offers a massive opportunity for increased competition. At the moment this is tempered by the way these markets are organized and controlled. The connection of DG to the grid, the opportunities for selling electricity from a DG system into the market or to another user and the full integration of DG at the distribution system level remain as barriers that have to be broken down before DG can compete effectively. Fortunately the way a market system is regulated does allow these issues to be addressed and the system to be changed.
75 © Business Insights Limited, 2000 - 2010
DISPOWER . Meanwhile there are already efforts underway to tackle the institutional barriers to DG in order to create a level playing field with regard to central versus distributed generation. India and South Korea is also targeting DG. this study found that there are already around 12 million DG units across the US with an aggregate capacity of 200GW. inadvertently encouraged DG. which on some estimates could account for 7% to 14% of new generating capacity. The IEA is also following the development of DG closely and has made recommendations intended to ease the integration of DG.There is. However it found that at present most utilities do not use DG in this way and that there are no standard models or tools for utilities to use in order to evaluate the use of DG. Note:  The Potential Benefits of Distributed Generation and Rate-related Issues that may Impede their Expansion: a study pursuant to section 1817 of the energy policy act of 2005. A recent report from the US Department of Energy appears to be one of the first products of this requirement. Among its conclusions the US DOE report found that US utilities could make greater use of DG to provide network support. another aspect of market liberalization that can. has set up a Renewable Energy and Distributed Generation Taskforce. IEA. Under these circumstances there is an increasing likelihood that consumers will resort to their own generating capacity in order to control both costs and security of supply. Note:  See for example. which has often been portrayed as a US initiative to evade the imposition of mandatory international targets on greenhouse gas emissions. February 2007.2010 . 2002. This taskforce claims its first set of approved projects could add 1. 2005. 2000 .8GW of renewable and distributed generation capacity over five years. As noted in Chapter 1. which brings together the US. The Californian market at the beginning of this century is perhaps the best (or worst) but by no means the only example. Japan. however. Note:  Distributed Generation in Liberalised Electricity Markets. 76 © Business Insights Limited. Australia. Some liberalized markets have proved both unreliable and expensive. with electricity price volatility a constant danger. US Department of Energy. Energy Research Centre of the Netherlands. These include a cluster of DG related research projects funded under the EU's Fifth Framework Research Program. Although the US DOE report makes no specific recommendations it does identify broad ways in which DG might be more fully integrated. and in some places may already have. Meanwhile the US 2005 Energy Policy Act specifically called on the US Secretary of State for Energy to study the potential system level benefits of DG. The EU has recognized DG as a key element of future electricity system strategy and these projects are attempting to redefine the way in which the various players will operate in a system in which DG is fully integrated.The Changing Role of Energy Suppliers and Distribution System Operators in the Deployment of Distributed Generation in Liberalised Electricity Markets M J N van Werven and M J J Scheepers. The Asia-Pacific Partnership on Clean Development and Climate. China. This organization.
Renewable development also gains considerable impetus from fears about energy security. fossil fuel power plants can at best turn half the energy contained in the fuel they burn into electricity. Most of the anticipated growth will probably take place within the electricity systems of the developed countries.2010 . 2000 . reducing overall energy usage and hence greenhouse gas emissions. The other main factor affecting policy towards DG is the desire to increase use of renewable energy. Growth in other parts of the world appears less predictable. One of the main driving forces behind the policy shift is energy efficiency. Tapping these creates a hedge against both high prices and low availability of fossil fuel and is becoming an element of national policy in many parts of the world. Wind and small hydro are already competitive while solar pV has benefited from major programs in the US. Central power plants are normally located well away from urban and commercial areas and rarely have a ready market for their waste heat. however. Most countries rely on external sources for fossil fuel whereas all have their own renewable resources. space heating or process heat to local users. The result has been a significant increase in the use of the technology.Policy drivers The initiatives to increase the use of DG are the response to several key drivers. Prospects All these incentives. well placed small generating units with waste heat capture can easily provide hot water. particularly in Europe and the US. The advantages of DG with CHP has been recognized by many governments and this is one of the main forces driving policy towards encouraging DG. This can be seen clearly in EU policy and it is beginning to appear as an aim at state level in the US if not yet at a federal level. Average energy efficiency for fossil fuel plants in the US is 33% and this figure reflects the typical performance of fossil-fuel power plants in many parts of the world. will depend on how quickly market and network access for DG is improved. Renewable technologies are some of the key DG technologies. This interest in renewable energy is encouraged by the growing awareness of the dangers of global warming and by fears of an approaching decline in global stocks of oil and gas.10 alongside the main market resistors. Germany and Japan where the use of rooftop pV units have been actively promoted. Countries that are pushing hard to expand overall generating capacity to meet demand are more likely to emphasize increased central 77 © Business Insights Limited. More renewable energy generally means more DG. which shown in Figure 8. This represents a significant saving in energy. In contrast. As was seen in earlier chapters. The rate of growth. mean that the use of DG should show significant growth in the next ten to fifteen years.
EPRI also tested a grid sellback/net metering scenario implying greater market access and integration for DG. Putting figures on the potential size of the market for DG now and in the future is more difficult but it already appears significant. has also looked at potential use of DG in the US.600MW.2010 . Note:  Distributed Generation in Liberalised Electricity Markets. was more than new nuclear orders that year. Much of this capacity will be based on gas turbines for industrial DG applications. Distributed generation market drivers and inhibitors Source: Business Insights According to the Electric Power Research Institute the total DG market in the US between 2010 and 2020 is likely to be 35. meanwhile. IEA.500MW if development targets are met. The US Energy Information Administration. 2002. May 2005. According to the IEA. At a utility level it found that only peaking DG units were 78 © Business Insights Limited.capacity rather than DG. Nevertheless more widespread and successful integration of DG in the developed world will surely lead to its spread elsewhere. Electric Power Research Institute. Note:  Status. Trends and Market Forecast for Stationary Fuel Cell Power Systems. the global demand for distributed generation capacity in 2000 was 7% of the total orders which. 2000 . Under these conditions it found that the total DG market in the US between 2010 and 2020 could rise to 120.000MW. as the IEA pointed out. Presented at Ohio Fuel Cell Symposium. However EPRI suggests that high temperature fuel cells could capture as much as 6.400MW of which the potential fuel cell market was approaching 54. Dan Rastler. The estimate of DG potential is based on 2003 gas prices.
368 162. US Department of Energy. It predicted that DG could contribute 27. On this basis it concluded that utility DG capacity was likely to reach 5.30 0 98.563 184.621 Source: DTI Note:  Accommodating Distributed Generation. Note:  Accommodating Distributed Generation. capacity connected to the distribution network at under 11kV should reach 510MW by 2020.22 5 2030 3.310MW at the end of 2005 according to a UK Department of Trade and Industry report prepared by Econnect.415MW and that connected above 33kV will increase to 89.2010 . 2006.188 11.likely to be competitive. Table 8. Note:  The Role of Distributed Generation in US Energy Markets.26 9 2050 9.56 3 177. Robert T Eynon. That connected to the network at between 11kV and 33kV is expected to reach 8. Econnect Consulting for UK Department of Trade and Industry. Econnect Consulting for UK Department of Trade and Industry.000GWh of electricity by 2020.100MW by 2020. The EIA also examined the impact of DG in the buildings sector for both domestic and commercial use.100MW by 2010 and 19. 2006.690 12. Forecast distributed generation capacity on the UK distribution network (MW) 2020 Under 11kV 11kV-33kV Above 33kV Total 510 8.2 shows predictions of how this might grow. The UK had an installed DG capacity of 13.518 162.300MW. However this only accounted for 5% of expected additions to utility capacity. 79 © Business Insights Limited. Based on figures from the report. 2000 .415 89.
ÖkoInstitut and M J J Scheepers. Development in other parts of the world is less certain and may depend on the success of the technologies in these first markets.690MW. Proven technologies exist and new technologies are being developed which can provide competitive distributed generation but much depends on how market regulations and incentives adapt to meet the requirements of DG. there should be significant growth in Europe and the US.Forecast distributed generation capacity on the UK distribution network (MW) Source: DTI In 2030 the capacity connected at under 11kV will rise to 3. At the highest voltage. A Look into the Future: Scenarios for Distributed Generation in Europe. Given the continued political will for change. Meanwhile the capacity connected at between 11kV and 33kV rises to 11. ECN.563MW by 2030 but rise no further by 2050. DG could eventually account for 40% of EU wide generation. At worst there could be virtually no change from current levels. the report predicts that capacity will reach 162. The growth of DG in the EU as a whole has been analyzed by the EU-funded SUSTELNET program under a number of different scenarios depending on how regulations and the European market develops.368MW in 2050.2010 . the analysis found. For the moment. December 2003.188MW and in 2050 it is expected to reach 9. In the best case. however.518MW in 2030 and 12. If there is a common message from these attempts to predict the future growth of distributed generation it is that prediction is extremely difficult. 2000 . prospects look good. 80 © Business Insights Limited. Clearly there is a great deal of uncertainty in predicting this far ahead but equally clearly the prediction is for significant growth in DG capacity. Note:  SUSTELNET Policy and Regulatory Roadmaps for the Integration of Distributed Generation and the Development of Sustainable Electricity Networks. C Timpe.
2010 .81 © Business Insights Limited. 2000 .
This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
We've moved you to where you read on your other device.
Get the full title to continue listening from where you left off, or restart the preview.