If you don't know much about the power system in Texas they are about the only state in the 48 which has their own power grid isolated from their neighbors and it's been more blessing than curse to them. They don't worry about neighboring regional power glitches creating problems for them. Their energy policy is obviously driven by the oil and gas reserves they have which generates nearly all the power in Texas. But the folks in Texas aren't blind to the issues petrol-powered energy has and has a pretty aggressive policy to see a diversified energy production profile for the state.
Recently the legislators did something pretty bold for them, they lessened regulation on CoGeneration facilities. You see the Utility Commission has previously looked at these facilities as small utilities and as such it hampered the development of significant CoGen power where it could really help the grids in TX.
The Texas Legislature recently passed House Bill 2049, which removes regulatory barriers and improves the business climate for cogeneration facilities by clarifying language in the Texas Utility Code. "…this policy change will help the entire Texas grid by relieving grid congestion, increasing grid capacity and reducing the amount of water used in the generation of electricity," said Paul Cauduro, executive director of the Texas Combined Heat and Power Initiative.
See an article on this new legislation here from Fierce Energy
So how does this tie into the issues surrounding the Built Environment and my interests expressed here? Well it's pretty simple. While PV power is nice, it is designed as an add-on system to normal operations and is by it's nature diurnal. CoGen isn't. GoGen systems are designed to recover waste energy and increase overall efficiency by using that waste heat to create more power. Too many times we don't look at our buildings in terms of their waste energy profile. How much energy are our buildings throwing away with single-pass heating and cooling and even the recapture of excess heat in the summer being exhaled from our buildings by cooling systems.
The important thing to realize here these systems have been around a long, long time and even today there are emerging technologies which can absorb more and more excess energy to be either stored and used later or recovered and used immediately to generate power. We do have the technology now, we can use commercially available systems which are designed from residential scale to large industrial complexes. The problem is we are so in love with the PV solar story we have likely forgot some basics of systems design along the way.
My challenge to building design and execution teams is get educated about CoGeneration and it's advantages and educate your client base to it's advantages and quick paybacks and long-term benefits. Our neighbors in Texas have decided CoGen makes sense for their power needs, maybe the rest of us should start looking at CoGen harder and push for easier regulation and implementation in our own back yards.