Hot Topics in Cogeneration


Tecogen’s long track record with nursing homes and primary care facilities shows CHP is a perfect fit

The cost of elder care seems to rise in lock step with the cost of energy. Combined Heat and Power (CHP) has shown a remarkable ability to address at least half of that interesting equation.
With central heating systems that provide Domestic Hot Water to rooms and residents, and large electricity demands for lighting, medical equipment, and other technology associated with elder care, nursing homes have proven to be near-perfect candidates for CHP.

“For senior home managers concerned about controlling operating expenses while enhancing resident safety and quality of care, Tecogen’s clean energy equipment provides a perfect solution,” says Benjamin Locke, Co-CEO of Tecogen.

CHP systems are powered by abundant and reliable natural gas and generate electricity while waste heat from the engine is recovered to provide a building’s hot water needs for climate control and domestic hot water (DHW). This allows an installation to achieve 80-90% efficiency levels. This superior efficiency directly results in reduced electric demand and cuts the average building’s carbon footprint in half.

In addition, the Tecogen InVerde’s UL certifications mean it can be seamlessly connected to the electric grid to provide backup power in case of blackout, ensuring patient safety will never be jeopardized.
Tecogen’s recent partnership with TEDOM opens up the CHP option for smaller facilities that may have been told they were too small to take advantage of the technology. Those buildings now have an option with the TEDOM Micro 35kW system. Via TTcogen’s TEDOM product line, the company also can now accommodate larger campus facilities with a selection of custom systems up to 4MW in size.

With CHP technology, senior homes have the ability to reduce operating costs and ensure consistent resident safety and quality of care. Providing reliable, efficient, and affordable on-site power generation along with precision heating and cooling services is the backbone of Tecogen’s long track record serving the senior living market.

That track record includes signature projects at facilities in Massachusetts, New York, and California.
At the Notre Dame Long Term Care Center in Worcester, MA a CHP system had been installed in the 123-bed long-term care facility. That was augmented by another system in the adjoining assisted living facility, which houses and additional 200 people.

System performance has exceeded expectations. Each CHP system generated such substantial savings that the total equipment and installation cost was completely paid back in just 3 years. Additionally, Notre Dame’s gas and electric utilities each offered rebates to reduce the investment required by the facility.

In New York, Jamaica Hospital Medical Center, located on the VanWyck Expressway within sight of New York’s JFK Airport, serves patients from Queens and Eastern Brooklyn and has been called one of the 50 fastest-growing hospitals in the U.S. But the 431-bed community teaching hospital found a downside to all the growth – rising energy costs were difficult to manage, thanks to the unpredictable electric rates in the region.

The two TECOCHILL® DTx 400-ton units allowed the hospital to recover their investment in less than three years.

Similarly, located in California and founded in 1921 by entertainment icons such as Mary Pickford, Charlie Chaplin, and Douglas Fairbanks, the Motion Picture & Television Fund Hospital is a non-profit organization that provides charitable assistance to those in the entertainment industry.

That includes a retirement and assisted living, all located on a forty-acre campus just west of Los Angeles. As part of the hospital’s commitment to its community and its neighbors, an effort has been made to maximize energy efficiency and minimize the facility’s impact on the environment.

To that end, the Hospital operates an impressive selection of environmentally friendly Tecogen equipment: six 75kW TECOGEN® gas engine-driven cogeneration modules and a 150-ton TECOCHILL® gas engine-driven chiller. Over the life of those machines, the Hospital realized an estimated savings of more than $600,000 in the first four years of operation.

It’s clear to see CHP is a great fit for senior homes, assisted living, and long term care facilities looking to cut their operating expenses without sacrificing resident and patient care. To find out if CHP is right for your building, please visit or contact us for a free Site Assessment.


Why cogen belongs in your clean energy portfolio

Renewable energy, carbon footprints, and clean energy portfolio standards get a lot of attention these days. In the focus on the next clean energy ‘breakthrough’ technology there have also been a lot of failures and disappointments along the way. Trendy technologies often fall in and out of favor, meanwhile - reliable, clean, and affordable gas-fueled cogeneration keeps quietly winning converts.

Have you overlooked its potential?

Take the example of fuel cells - although the first documented discussion of the hydrogen-powered technology was published as early as the December 1838 edition of ‘The London and Edinburgh Philosophical Magazine and Journal of Science’ by Welsh physicist William Grove, it wasn’t until 1939 that British engineer Francis Thomas Bacon successfully developed a 5 kW stationary fuel cell. Despite several false starts and unfortunate failures, today, fuel cells remain an expensive proposition with an uncertain future.

Solar has a longer than you’d expect history as well. The first solar cell was constructed by Charles Fritts in the 1880s. The technology languished for a while until researchers Gerald Pearson, Calvin Fuller and Daryl Chapin created the silicon solar cell in 1954. Despite this breakthrough – efforts to further develop the technology languished until the 1970s oil crisis and it is only recently that solar PV pricing has come down to the point that the technology can make economic sense.

Meanwhile, wind turbines are among the oldest and most ancient methods of harnessing energy and putting it to useful work. Windmills were in use as early as 500-900 A.D. in Persia and the first electricity-generating wind turbine was a battery charging machine installed in July 1887 by Scottish academic James Blyth. The first automatically operated wind turbine came that same year and was built in Cleveland by Charles F. Brush. Brush’s turbine was 60 feet tall, weighed 4 tons, and powered a 12 kW generator - it was also considered uneconomical and exceedingly large, an argument wind turbines have had to contend with to this day.

These technologies have all come a long way and are being regularly incorporated into a picture of our nation’s clean power future. However, they all have their drawbacks. What to do with your solar array on a cloudy day? Or in the evening? How to cope when the wind doesn’t rustle the leaves? Or the expensive fuel cell stack needs replacing?

Natural gas (or biogas) fueled cogeneration is the simple answer.

Cogeneration (“cogen” or “CHP”) is a highly efficient and ecologically beneficial method of power generation. Because waste heat is recovered from the electric power production process, the systems can achieve fuel energy utilization of up to 95% with minimal losses – a level of efficiency that directly translates into significant savings for the customer. The major fuel for running cogeneration (or combined heat and power “CHP”) units is natural gas, however, units may also be configured to use propane, biogas, landfill gas, gas from water treatment plants or other alternative fuels for their operation.

First commercialized in the late 1880s (perhaps the true decade of the energy renaissance?), cogeneration’s popularity was strangled by central utility plants that saw decentralized energy solutions as competitive and worked to stifle implementation. Small scale combined heat and power units came on the scene as early as the 1950s-1960s and began to gain attention with the deregulation of the electric industry.


What does cogeneration offer?

Aside from running on affordable, abundant, and reliable natural gas or biogas – CHP has a lot of other advantages – detailed succinctly by the EPA’s Combined Heat and Power Partnership:

Efficiency - CHP requires less fuel to produce a given energy output and avoids transmission and distribution losses that occur when electricity travels over power lines. Within the five major power grids in the United States, average T&D losses vary from 5.8-7.4%, with a national average of 6.2% (Source: Emissions & Generation Resource Integrated Database [eGRID]).  Losses can be even higher when the grid is strained and temperatures are high.

Environmental - Because less fuel is burned to produce each unit of energy output and because transmission and distribution losses are avoided, CHP reduces emissions of greenhouse gases and other air pollutants – improving air quality and a building’s carbon footprint.

Economic - CHP can save facilities considerable money on their energy bills due to its high efficiency, and it can provide a hedge against electricity cost increases.

Reliability - Unreliable electricity service represents a quantifiable business, safety, and health risk for some companies and organizations. CHP is an on-site generation resource and can be designed to support continued operations in the event of a disaster or grid disruption by continuing to provide reliable electricity. When compared to often intermittent

Cogeneration in a Clean Power Portfolio – 
It’s clear the distributed generation renaissance is here, the options are plentiful, and the most robust systems will incorporate elements from traditional utilities, renewable sources and clean alternatives like cogeneration. The true power (see what we did there?) of these technologies is harnessed by a hybrid system. Imagine a solution that anticipates a building’s demand and responds on the fly – putting preference on energy from solar PV on a sunny day, slowly ramping up the power from a gas-fueled cogeneration unit as evening falls, and charging a standby battery in the middle of the night when grid power is cheap for use in periods of peak demand or in an emergency.

These elegant hybrid systems not only exist today – but are affordable solutions centered around cogeneration that offer savvy building owners energy savings from clean power while enhancing resiliency and reducing demand on the congested national grid.

To learn more about cogeneration, contact us today or Request a Free Site Assessment to see if CHP is right for your building.



Master Engineering for Masterful Design

As one of Europe’s largest combined heat and power (CHP) manufacturers, TEDOM a.s. has long been guided by its primary mission to deliver effective and environmentally-friendly utilization of energy fuel resources. Part of this effort requires continuous development and improvement of the technology used by TEDOM combined heat and power systems (CHP units) – including engine technology.

According to TEDOM’s founder and CEO Josef Jelecek, the integration of the company’s own engines into TEDOM cogeneration was a significant step toward achieving an advantage over the tough competition in Europe. TEDOM is now using the company’s own engines in its signature Cento series. With electrical output from 80kW up to 200 kW, low service cost, and reliable operation, the engine is now popular with TEDOM clients worldwide.

TEDOM’s quest for a more efficient engine began right from the start. The first TEDOM CHP unit was manufactured in 1991 with an output of 22 kW powered by a Škoda Favorit combustion engine. The Skoda engine was adapted from an automotive use and eventually proved underpowered.

Two years later, TEDOM began manufacturing CHP units equipped with LIAZ engines. For decades LIAZ was the leading truck engine manufacturer in the Czech Republic and had a very long and storied history of success in the category. LIAZ’s engine factory dates back to 1907, with hundreds of thousands of engines produced the company offered unmatched expertise in the category. Along with a robust and time tested product, the LIAZ engines offered the possibility of creating a broader size range of CHP products – driving TEDOM’s expansion.

2003 served as a major milestone for TEDOM with the production of the company’s 1000th CHP unit. That same year also brought an unusual opportunity – the LIAZ engine manufacturing production facility in Jablonec nad Nisou was up for auction along with the relevant technical data and drawings for the engine. To at last be able to manufacture engines made specifically for CHP products and to the company’s exacting engineering standards would be a significant competitive advantage - TEDOM pounced on the opportunity.

These former LIAZ engines are now manufactured under the TEDOM trademark and exclusively engineered to TEDOM’s specifications. Custom designed to improve efficiency, extend the engine’s service life, and for compatibility with a number of fuel inputs including natural gas, biogas (or renewable gas), and propane among others – these TEDOM engines are the workhorses of TEDOM’s over 600MW of global installed distributed generation capacity.

TTcogen now offers this masterfully engineered design to United States customers. To find out if CHP is right for your building please visit or contact us for a free Site Assessment.