Duke Energy, Duke University plan 21-MW power unit

Duke Energy (NYSE:DUK) plans to develop a 21-MW combined heat and power (CHP) facility on the Duke University campus in Durham, North Carolina, the power company said May 9.

Under a proposed 35-year agreement and subject to approval by the North Carolina Utilities Commission (NCUC), Duke Energy Carolinas proposes to own, build and operate the project that is expected to cost roughly $55m.

Duke Energy Carolinas will file with the NCUC for a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity for the project. If approved, the project – around $55m – is expected to come online in 2018.

If approved, the plant would use the waste heat from generating electricity to produce thermal energy and steam needed for the university, making it one of the most efficient generating assets in the Duke Energy generation fleet. The electric power would be put back on the Duke Energy electric grid to serve the university and nearby customers.

In addition to 21 MW of power, the facility would be capable of producing roughly 75,000 pounds per hour of steam, which would be sold to Duke University for heating water among other things. The CHP facility would be connected to an existing Duke Energy substation located on the campus, which serves the university and its medical center as well as other customers.

By displacing the current electricity mix and boilers currently serving the university, the project would lower energy-related carbon dioxide emissions at Duke University by about 25%. In the future, the project could also be used to isolate the critical loads on the campus, providing a method to increase reliability to hospitals and clinics as additional grid back up.

“This partnership will provide value for Duke University and will accelerate our progress towards climate neutrality,” said Duke University’s executive vice president Tallman Trask III.  “By combining steam and electricity generation systems, we can increase efficiency and reduce our overall consumption by millions of units of energy each year, and have a positive effect on the community at large.”

The existing gas-fired boilers will still exist but be run much less, said a Duke Energy spokesperson.

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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.