How Cogeneration Power Plants Work

One of the positive consequences of advancements in technology is the elevation of standards.

A practical example are traditional power plants, where a fossil fuel (for example natural gas or coal) is burnt to produce thermal energy. The heat is then used to produce steam which moves a turbine, producing electricity.

This way of producing power is now highly inefficient, because there is a remarkable amount of energy wasted at each passage. For example, when the vapour that moves the turbines is cooled to bring water back to its original state, the heat is dispersed in the air or in the cooling water.

An ORC system, coupled with heat recovery, makes the process more efficient, capturing the residual heat and making it available in form of thermal energy, together with electric power

The following video clearly shows the potential of cogeneration. As one can see, the heat that is recovered from the production of electric power can be used in three different ways, depending on the quantity and type of demand.

The efficiency of a cogeneration power plant won't depend only on how the energy is produced, but also on how it's distributed. Since the additional energy is generated in form of hot water, the closer the destination, the more efficient the system will be.

A direct consequence of that is the decentralisation of power plants. From a single point of production at the centre, with energy even travelling long distances to serve households and factories, to several smaller plants serving smaller zones.