How It Works

TECO owns and operates a combined heat and power-based district energy system. District energy is not a new technology. It is not a technology we have to wait to test or to research. It is here today and it works today.

District energy systems produce steam, hot water or chilled water at a central plant and then pipe that energy out to customer buildings for air conditioning, space heating, dehumidification, sterilization, kitchen and laundry processes, and domestic hot water use. Individual buildings don't need their own boilers or chillers. A district energy system does that work for them.

Many people may not be familiar with district energy because it quietly does its job. Plus, the pipes that deliver the steam, hot water and/or chilled water are usually buried underneath the streets, so most people don't know they are there.

energy diagram

How does combined heat and power (CHP) work?

Combined heat and power is an efficient, clean and reliable approach to generating power and thermal energy from a single fuel source. Standard power plants effectively use just one-third of the fuel they burn to produce electricity. Two-thirds of the fuel used to produce electricity ends up being rejected or "wasted" up the smokestack. By using this waste heat — effectively recycling it — to produce heating or cooling, efficiencies go up and emissions go down.

In TECO's case, electricity and waste heat from the natural gas-fired CHP plant are used to produce steam and chilled water, which are piped underground through TECO's district cooling and heating network to more than 19.3 million sq ft of customer buildings. The 48 MW CHP plant operates at 68% efficiency and avoids emitting an estimated 32,700 tons of carbon dioxide annually. That's equal to the emissions produced when generating electricity for more than 4,000 homes.

MADE to Respond

You’ve probably seen the images on TV: Large utility trucks leaving your area to help repair downed power lines caused by a major disaster elsewhere in the country. Everyone lends a hand. The district energy industry, too, is ready to respond.

In fact, TECO participates in the Mutual Assistance for District Energy (MADE) program through the International District Energy Association (IDEA). MADE, a voluntary program, gives participating IDEA members access to disaster assistance in the form of personnel or equipment from companies who know their business. The goal is to get the district energy system back up to full strength as quickly as possible.

In addition to TECO, MADE program members that are providing and receiving assistance include ConEdison, New York; Citizens Thermal, Indianapolis; NRG Energy Center Omaha; and Veolia North America, which has district energy systems in such locations as Philadelphia and Baltimore.

IDEA also holds annual online training sessions for participants, reviewing case studies of actual disasters and simulating emergency situations.

XML Sitemap