Microturbines: Clean Backup Power in an Era of Climate Change

(DGIwire) – When Hurricane Sandy hit the U.S. east coast in 2012, it triggered historic power outages, including plunging lower Manhattan into darkness. According to TIME magazine, about 57,000 utility workers from 30 states and Canada traveled to New York City to assist in returning power to the city. A total of about 8.1 million homes across 17 states lost power. The impact on a wide range of businesses was severe.

As the world grows ever more concerned about climate change, data centers and other facilities face a dual challenge: incorporating backup power systems that are reliable and efficient while reducing the emission of harmful greenhouse gases. As it turns out, there exists a commercially available technology that can allow these facilities to go green while saving some green: microturbines. What makes microturbines especially valuable is their ability to recover the thermal energy from the clean exhaust, which more than doubles efficiency compared to traditional energy solutions.

One of the boldest sets of solutions in this area has come from Capstone Turbine Corporation, which has long been on the forefront of microturbine innovation. The company’s microturbines align perfectly with the backup power needs of businesses in varying applications.

Capstone, a company based in Chatsworth, CA, is the world’s leading developer and manufacturer of clean-and-green microturbine power generation systems, which can play a role in keeping on-site power generation both reliable and affordable. Capstone was the first to market with its patented high-efficiency air-bearing technology, which doesn’t require any oil or lubricants. Capstone microturbines use a variety of fuels, allowing businesses to maintain flexibility in a changing power landscape. Microturbines can serve as in-house electrical and thermal power plants for businesses as diverse as hospitals, hotels, office buildings, data centers, manufacturing facilities, universities, wastewater treatment plants, landfills and oil and gas operations. Capstone microturbines generate electrical and thermal power on-site at a more affordable rate than what customers pay the local utility.

“Capstone’s critical power supply portfolio features the world’s only microturbine-powered Uninterruptible Power Source (UPS) solution that delivers the reliability and performance critical facilities require,” says Darren Jamison, President and CEO at Capstone.

The company’s microturbines are already helping at many facilities. For example, Syracuse University’s state-of-the-art Green Data Center uses 12 Capstone C65 Hybrid UPS microturbines to power the entire facility. The low-emission microturbines are the heart of an innovative trigeneration—or combined cooling, heating and power (CCHP)—system that further boosts the data center’s energy efficiency. The 12 natural-gas microturbines produce electricity as well as supply heat and cooling to the data center and a nearby building.

Elsewhere, the Pennsylvania State Employees Credit Union required a power generator system for its 239,000-square-foot facility and data center. A trigeneration package that includes the Capstone C800 Dual Mode Power Package reduces carbon emissions by 1,468 tons per year. The C800 system produces 800kW of electricity—powering 100 percent of the facility during the colder months and 60-70 percent during warmer months—as well as its hot water and chilled water.

Meanwhile on the west coast, Vineyard 29—located in St. Helena in California’s Napa Valley—utilizes two Capstone C60 microturbines to produce up to 120kW of power for the vineyard’s wine production, heating and cooling of its facilities. Low-pressure natural gas is used for the two C60s, which ensure backup power in the event of an outage.

“The technology and value proposition of microturbines for backup power generation make them a good bet for ensuring our skies stay as clean as possible,” Mr. Jamison adds.

From:Microturbines: Clean Backup Power in an Era of Climate Change

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