Cogeneration is a process by means of which two or more types of energy are simultaneously generated. Even though cogeneration usually refers to electric and thermal power, it can also occur with mechanical energy, and heat or cold air generation. Interest on this form of generation comes from making the most of the energy contained in fuels, reaching high levels of efficiency.
” In the electricity generation process, there is unused heat.
Even if it may seem as a complex process, we coexist with it on a daily basis. A very clear example is fuel burnt in vehicles. In such combustion, heat is generated (thermal energy), which transforms into movement (mechanical energy) in the engine. However, this transformation loses a high percentage of energy, as it is also the case in thermal plants. In the latter, heat is disseminated in the environment. Such losses decrease the efficiency of a vehicle, reducing its performance by not taking advantage of all the power of the fuel consumed.
” Cogeneration plants may reach global performance over 70%.
In conventional thermal power plants, those burning fossil fuels, performance are between 28 % and 42 %, depending on the technology and type of fuel. Combined cycle power plants reach performance over 60 % using the latest technology, as well as using natural gas as fuel. On the other hand, cogeneration plants reach higher global performance, even over 70 %, taking advantage of residual heat for other purposes such as steam generation that can later be used in industrial processes.