Wednesday, February 16, 2011
New York University implements a new "green" power plant as part of its own climate action plan.
new state-of-the-art cogeneration (CoGen) power plant, designed to simultaneously provide heat and electricity to NYU's campus while helping to reduce its carbon footprint.
The upgrade was a central part of NYU's own climate action plan, spurred on by both the New York City Mayor Bloomberg's PlaNYC Climate Challenge, a directive for all city colleges and universities to cut carbon emissions voluntarily by 30% by 2017, and the American College and University President's Climate Commitment, a larger initiative across many institutions of higher learning to work towards climate neutrality.
The new plant is a marked improvement over NYU's previous oil-fired power plant. It is 90% efficient as opposed to a typical boiler plant, which is only 50-60% efficient, and it produces 13.4 megawatts of electricity, twice the output of the previous system. The new plant helps NYU reduce its overall greenhouse gas emissions by roughly 20%, cutting up to 5,000 metric tons of carbon per year.
Here is a great diagram of how it works. Briefly, natural gas powers two high-tech turbines, which are similar to jet engine turbines. The rotation from turbines generates electricity while the heat exhaust from the turbines is recovered and used to make steam. The steam is then shunted off for a variety of purposes. Some steam is used for heating and hot water, additional steam is used to drive another turbine for electricity generation, and in the summer, steam is shunted off to chiller to create cold water for air conditioning.
While the project was not cheap (price tag of $125 million), the university is expected to save $5-8 million in energy related costs per year.
These briefs are part of a weekly series of updates to the publication: Climate Change: Past, Present, and Future. The entire series can be found here.