Eglin Air Force Base

Hanscom Air Force Base Turns to Cogeneration

Eglin Air Force Base

Hanscom Air Force Base is implementing $43 million in facility improvements that will deliver more than $94 million in guaranteed savings over the life of the project and will improve energy resiliency on base.

The base partnered with Noresco, a company that provides energy efficiency and infrastructure solutions, to support the Air Force initiative to provide mission assurance through energy assurance.

The cornerstone of the project is a 4.6-megawatt cogeneration plant that will deliver significant utility cost savings and improve electrical and steam generating reliability. The cogeneration plant will operate on a microgrid to provide emergency power to critical locations on the base during utility outages. The central steam plant will be powered by the electric and steam output of the cogeneration plant if power from the traditional grid is unavailable. The project will also improve lighting quality, reduce maintenance costs and provide a more reliable supply of lower cost fuel.

The project is among the first developed through a memorandum of understanding between the U.S. Air Force Civil Engineer Center and the U.S. Army Engineering and Support Center, Huntsville. Team members from the Air Force, Army and NORESCO worked together to meet an aggressive project development timeline of 11 months from selection to award, expediting realization of project benefits to Hanscom AFB.

Cogeneration, or combined heat and power, produces electricity and usable heat at the same time, improving energy efficiency and reducing costs. The Center for Climate and Energy Solutions says cogeneration currently accounts for roughly 12% of total U.S. electricity generation and comprises about 9% (85 gigawatts at about 3,300 sites) of total generating capacity.

Only about 12% of existing cogeneration capacity is deployed at commercial or institutional facilities (as opposed to industrial or manufacturing facilities). Nearly three quarters of cogeneration capacity uses natural gas for fuel, and gas-fired combustion turbines and combined cycle systems dominate cogeneration capacity even though nearly half of all cogeneration sites use reciprocating engines (the reciprocating engines are much smaller in terms of capacity than the other systems). Large cogeneration systems (100 megawatts or more in capacity) account for roughly 65% of total cogeneration capacity.

Last year, Duke University filed an application for Duke Energy Carolinas to build, own and operate a 21 MW natural gas cogeneration plant on the Durham campus.

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