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Report on Visit to Dundee University Combined Heating

and Power Plant

Universities are well known to not be the most energy efficient sites, and the
cost of heating and powering these sites can be very high indeed. Because of
this Dundee University decided to invest in a combined heating and power plant.

The system has an electrical generation capacity of 3MW, enough to cope with
the campus demand throughout most of the year. If the plant cannot meet
requirements (e.g. if an alternator is down or capacity is unusually high)
electricity can be purchased straight from the National Grid. The same is also
true for over capacity, but it is the norm to shut down one of the machines in this

From a heating point of view the heat recovered from the system contributes
roughly 55% to the annual output of the boiler house which feeds the district
heating system.

A generator unit comprise a 1.004MW alternator connected to a Jenbacher4

stoke, 20 cylinder engine which rotates at a constant 1500rpm, has spark
ignition, is supercharged and runs on Gas (mains supply). There are 3 of these
generator units on site. The output of the 1MW alternators is at 3.3KV (50Hz)
which is then stepped up to 11KV (for electrical transmission purposes this is
more efficient due to hear losses calculated using I^2R). Control of the
generators is through a PLC system (programmable logic control) as is the
synchronisation with the grid. Synchronisation involves varying the speed of the
alternator until it matches that of the grid at the present time and is a legal

Thermal output from the engines acts as a pre-heater for the boiler system which
supplies the district heating system. Heat is recovered from the exhaust gasses,
first stage intercooler and the engine cooling water. If the cooling water
exceeds 95 degrees Celsius, the cooling water is diverted to an external radiator
and cooled from there. This is to avoid damage/inefficient running to the engine.

The whole electrical generation system and district heating system, as

mentioned earlier, is controlled by a complex PLC and SCADA system
(Supervisory Control And Data Acquisition). This system monitors electrical
demand and heating requirements in real time and makes adjustments to
equipment as and when required, and can also provide helpful historical data to
aid future decisions.

I found the visit to the site very interesting, if not a bit brief. I also found the
efficiency of the station to be surprisingly good, as previous CHP’s I have visited
have not been nearly as high. I also found it rather interesting that the engine
system had only been apparent to me as an emergency supply system to me in
the past, but its current application made great sense.
Christopher Tayler