How to install a high-efficiency trigeneration plant

There are several technical and administrative phases in installing a high-efficiency trigeneration plant: the best solution is to seek assistance from a specialised company

Published on 7 January 2020

high efficiency trigeneration plant: what is it and how to install one

When electricity is generated by burning fossil fuel, a good part of the energy produced is lost in the form of heat. So why not capture and use this heat instead of wasting it?  Trigeneration plants use the thermal waste for both heating and cooling through thermal recovery and a physical procedure known as the absorption refrigeration cycle, and this is powered by the excess heat.

Given that these plants use some of the energy that would be otherwise wasted, they are considered high-efficiency: the energy saving brings financial advantages along with environmental benefits which can further increase, depending on the fuel used (often this is methane, but it could also be diesel, biomass, biogas or biodiesel).

Installing a high-efficiency trigeneration plant is particularly suitable for structures of large dimensions such as hotels, factories and shopping centres. The installation requires a range of technical and administrative procedures that depend, in part, on the legislation in force in individual countries, regions or provinces.

First of all, you need to analyse present energy consumption and specific needs for electricity, heating and cooling in order to evaluate the ideal plant in terms of type and size.  The system is then designed from an engineering perspective. This depends on various parameters, starting with an essential distinguishing factor:  whether the structure is in the construction phase and the plant is being integrated into the building project, or whether an efficiency intervention is being implemented in an existing building.

The authorisation process is generally divided into two parts, both dependent on the legislative situation in individual countries: the first, the starting point, is to obtain authorisation to build the plant; the second, which follows construction, to obtain the energy efficiency certificates.

Once built, the plant must be powered:  it’s now time to choose the right type of fuel, one that best meets the requirements from the range of offers from various suppliers. Overall, this is a long process which requires various forms of expertise. This is why a very common solution is to use the services of a specialised company: there are complete packages available on the market, and these cover all the phases of implementation, from evaluation of consumption to supply of fuel and often maintenance of the plant. This way, thanks to the experience of these companies, there is the guarantee of the best quality in every single phase of the operation.

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Cogeneration and Trigeneration

Through its subsidiaries, Enel X offers customers a turnkey service for the supply of electricity, heat and refrigeration from natural gas cogeneration and/or trigeneration plants using two different formulas created ad hoc on the basis of the customer's needs

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Enel X offers an innovative service called Demand Response that allows commercial and industrial consumers to access the dispatching services market (MSD) by modulating their own energy consumption, with the aim of meeting electricity supply/demand peaks, thereby allowing for greater flexibility and network stability

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