MVE Technical Blog - 2005 Cogeneration

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2005: Natural Gas-Fired Microturbines Move Retirement Facility from Coal Era to Cogeneration

Source: Natural Gas-Fired Microturbines Move Retirement Facility from Coal Era to Cogeneration

The Masonic Homes of Elizabethtown has leaped from the coal era to the energy wave of the future – microturbine-based cogeneration. The sprawling complex in Pennsylvania's Lancaster County is a continuing care retirement community, children's home and community service organization serving more than 1,400 residents, cared for by 1,200 staff. Open since 1910, Masonic Homes obtained its heat from a coal-fired, high-pressure steam plant that burned approximately 5,000 tons of coal annually. That plant's three coal-powered boilers also produced steam for laundry and other purposes.

To get away from the emissions-creating, inefficient, coal-fired, steam system and take advantage of Pennsylvania's deregulation of electric utilities, the Masonic Homes' board of directors agreed to install a natural gas-fired distributed energy generation system that would not only supply existing heat and steam needs, but also create electric power.

New high-tech plant

The new co-generation plant consists of five 60 kW Capstone microturbines that produce 300 kW of electricity. They run parallel to the local power grid to provide supplementary power to the entire facility. In case of a power outage, they can back up the three new Bryan low-NOx emission boilers, which operate on natural gas but can also run on No. 2 fuel oil. For additional fuel efficiency and even fewer NOx emissions, heat generated by the microturbines is used to preheat water for the boilers.

Another reason for choosing the Capstone units was their ability to be installed outdoors.

"It was an opportunity to get out of the business of burning coal for our hot water heating systems," says Jeff Gromis, Facilities Engineer at Masonic Homes. "The co-gen portion of this, which provides electricity and reheats our return loop water, provided enough justification to get away from coal and the emissions issues that go with it."

Study projects savings

McClure, the design-build contractor for the cogeneration project, undertook a life-cycle analysis projecting it would save more than $13 million in energy costs for Masonic Homes over 30 years.

"They made the decision based on return on investment," says Dan Kerr, Director of Design-Build Services at McClure. "We've proven that the pro forma calculations were correct on return on investment."

The Masonic Homes has realized other savings in addition to energy costs.

"We have made some substantial cuts in staffing (in the plant) from two men per shift 24/7 to a single person 40-hours per week," Gromis says. "It has also enabled us to be more environmentally conscious by burning gas instead of coal."

Importance of self-reliance

Being self-reliant energy-wise is important at the Masonic Homes, according to Todd Christ of UGI, the local natural gas utility. UGI extended an existing natural gas service line to the cogeneration plant and added capacity in order to provide the steady pressure required by microturbines.

"The Masonic Homes complex was very independent," Christ says. "They had their own orchards, their own butchers, their own farming. They still want to be pretty independent." That focus on self-reliance includes being able to generate electricity on-site.

"Masonic Homes is a leading-edge thinker," agrees Kerr. "They can envision their campus’ being totally self-reliant. It was fulfilling to work with a customer that understood value and that was willing to embrace a new technology."

Notes on Congeneration - CHP - at the Masonic Village

"Power and Heat. Using both maximizes efficiency and minimizes your facility’s energy bills. Microturbine systems conserve energy and cut operational costs by creating two forms of energy: electricity and heat. Using both energy outputs is called cogeneration or CHP: combined heat and power. Onsite CHP is far more fuel efficient and environmentally beneficial than utility power and boiler heating. The grid-parallel electricity produced lowers a facility’s demand on utility power and dramatically cuts monthly power bills. The heat can be used for water/space heating and/or process heating or drying. This offsets fuel consumed by less efficient boilers or heaters.

The heat output of microturbines can be used to both heat and air condition your facility via absorption cooling. In summer months, your energy bills can more than triple due to higher peak power rates and increased power usage due to air conditioning. But your microturbine systems can optionally chill water or water/glycol with absorption coolers, which use heat energy, instead of electric energy, to create air conditioning.

MicroTurbines also act as standby emergency generators. They can operate connected to a utility grid or provide stand- alone power to critical loads. Transition time between these two operating modes is less than 10 seconds, allowing customers to secure their critical power needs."

Source: Remarks by E-Finity at the May 8, 2008 meeting of the Central Pennsylvania Chapter of The Association of Energy Engineers

CHP Status - Capstone

VAN NUYS, Calif., Jan. 29, 2018 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Capstone Turbine Corporation ( (Nasdaq:CPST), the world's leading clean technology manufacturer of microturbine energy systems, announced today that the installation at Masonic Village in Elizabethtown, Pennsylvania has surpassed 700,000 operating hours.

Opened in 1910, Masonic Village is a 1,400-acre complex consisting of a continuing-care retirement community, children’s home, and community service organization. When the village needed to update their old coal-burning plant with a more efficient and reliable solution, they turned to Capstone microturbines. In 2002, five natural gas-fueled Capstone C60 microturbines with third-party heat recovery modules were installed in a combined heat and power (CHP) configuration to provide the electrical and thermal solution for the facility.

E-Finity Distributed Generation, Capstone’s exclusive Mid-Atlantic and Southeastern distributor, took over the site in 2007. Utilizing the Capstone product developments at the time, they upgraded the array from C60s to C65s, increasing the electrical output by 25 kilowatts (kW) and boosting the thermal efficiency by 47%. Masonic Village expanded their microturbine array by adding a sixth C65 with an integrated heat recovery module in 2011 to accommodate their growing energy needs. E-Finity has been overseeing and maintaining the Masonic Village installation since 2007 with the Capstone Factory Protection Plan (FPP).

The installation recently exceeded 700,000 total operating hours, with one of the C65 microturbines surpassing 135,000 hours alone. The microturbines have produced over 130,000-megawatt hours (MWh) of electrical and thermal energy, which is capable of powering 14,500 homes per year. The system has also helped Masonic Village reduce their carbon footprint by over 3,000 tons, generating carbon savings equivalent to eliminating 27 million miles driven by an average passenger vehicle.

“The Masonic Village installation truly sets our microturbine technology apart from other power generation technologies as I do not see a similar sized internal combustion engine or fuel cell having this type of reliability and longevity,” said Darren Jamison, President and Chief Executive Officer of Capstone. “I understand that end-use customers like to focus on project first costs but what they really should focus on is overall system reliability, efficiency, uptime and length of continuous duty operation as that has much more impact on project economics and environmental benefits, not to mention operational resiliency,” added Mr. Jamison.

The Masonic Village is the recipient of the 2007 EPA CHP Partner Focus Award and is a final nominee for the 2018 EPA ENERGY STAR CHP Award for its continued highly efficient performance and significant ongoing environmental benefit.

“Capstone microturbines are long-term assets, designed to last in excess of 20 years,” said Jeff Beiter, Managing Partner of E-Finity Distributed Generation. “Having approximately 17 years of continuous operation, Masonic Village is a testament to the longevity and reliability of Capstone technology. It is achievements such as this that clearly set Capstone microturbines apart within their own industry as leading class technology,” concluded Mr. Beiter.

CHP Partner Video from the EPA - April 1, 2013