University of Delaware nixes plan for 279-MW cogen

The University of Delaware has declined a proposal that would have developed a new data center and 279-MW cogeneration power plant as part of its Science, Technology and Advanced Research (STAR) Campus program.

The university recently announced that a review by a working group had concluded that a 2011 proposal from The Data Centers LLC (TDC) to develop a major data center and combined heat and power (CHP) facility that the project was inconsistent with the STAR campus mission.

The university indicated in an analysis released this month that it considered the 279-MW CHP facility too large. CHP is an efficient and viable transitional energy generation technology relative to other fossil fuel sources, the university said.

“The proposed 279 MW cogeneration facility is significantly (by at least two times) larger than any other on-site power generation facility known to us at data centers in the United States. Its scale, coupled with its unorthodox island mode power generation plans, makes it difficult to predict whether the claimed environmental and commercial goals can be met,” the university said.

The university also said that the TDC air emissions permit filed with the Delaware Department of Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC) showed “a lack of rigor in preparation.”

In 2012, a land lease was signed on a 271-acre property controlled by the university in order to provide time for both parties to consider the project.

“During the spring and summer of 2013, information emanating from TDC suggested that their plans were evolving with greater emphasis being placed on power generation and selling excess energy to the grid, changes that on the surface might not align with the vision for the STAR Campus,” the university said in a four-page summary of its decision.

The university then appointed a working group to review the proposal. The working group was comprised of university officials including the head of its Center for Carbon-free Power Integration.

The university’s working group employed a consulting firm; ENVIRON International, to help in its analysis of the proposal.

On its website TDC had indicated that it would use 43 acres of the 272-acre site. TDC indicated that it planned to capture a portion of the CO2 emissions from the site. Because of the high power demand by the data center, TDC said it would not build the data center without the CHP plant.

About Wayne Barber 4201 Articles
Wayne Barber, Chief Analyst for the GenerationHub, has been covering power generation, energy and natural resources issues at national publications for more than 20 years. Prior to joining PennWell he was editor of Generation Markets Week at SNL Financial for nine years. He has also worked as a business journalist at both McGraw-Hill and Financial Times Energy. Wayne also worked as a newspaper reporter for several years. During his career has visited nuclear reactors and coal mines as well as coal and natural gas power plants. Wayne can be reached at wayneb@pennwell.com.