Fort Bragg was honored with a US EPA Energy Star CHP Award on Tuesday, February 8th for its 5 megawatt combined heat and power (CHP) plant. This award, presented at the International District Energy Association’s 25th annual Campus Energy Conference, recognizes the high energy and environmental performance of this CHP project. The facility, which began operation in 2004, provides the US Army’s 82nd Airborne Division with an efficient and reliable source of power, heating and cooling. The heart of the system is a natural gas fueled combustion turbine generator with heat recovery boiler, that together operate twice as efficiently as a central utility plant, saving the base an estimated $1 million per year in energy costs.
The use of combined heat and power systems is an important means to increase the efficiency of electricity production, in which the heat is normally exhausted as waste. CHP plants like Fort Bragg’s generate electricity onsite and capture the resulting heat, which in this case is used to produce steam or chilled water in an absorption chiller. The steam and chilled water is distributed to the base through a district energy system, an underground piping network that connects multiple buildings to a central plant. A total of 67 buildings are served by the Fort Bragg system, to the benefit of more than 10,000 soldiers, family members and base employees.
The use of CHP at Fort Bragg also has a significant impact on the base’s emissions, avoiding an estimated 12,300 metric tons of CO2 emissions per year, equivalent to the annual carbon emissions of 4,036 cars.
The Department of Defense and the US Army have developed strategic plans for increased energy security and independence, which Fort Bragg installation energy management professionals are implementing through the use of a combination of technologies that include onsite CHP, energy efficiency and renewable energy resources. Ultimately, using more CHP as a constantly available resource in conjunction with available renewable energy resources, the base may generate as much power as it uses, with capability to operate as a secure and independent power island, called a microgrid.
The North Carolina Solar Center, housed at North Carolina State University, operates US Department of Energy Southeast Clean Energy Application Center (CEAC) as a key part of its mission to advance the use of clean power and renewable energy technologies such as CHP. The US Department of Energy Southeast Clean Energy Application Center (CEAC) assists private and public sector entities to identify and develop the opportunities that exist for energy and cost savings through the application of combined heat and power, district energy and waste heat recovery technologies. Organizations that use CHP and district energy in North Carolina include the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and North Carolina State University, which is currently building an 11 megawatt CHP plant that will serve its campus.