To reduce the risk that electrical outages will cause production delays that affect our customers, we recently invested more than $500,000 in a new combined heat and power (CHP) generator for our 30,000 square foot manufacturing facility. This system works in conjunction with our existing roof-mounted solar panels, which were installed in 2012.
The CHP system efficiently generates power on-site, while also recovering wasted heat energy for use in both heating and cooling the building. It delivers about 75 kilowatts of energy, while the solar panels kick in as much as 50 kilowatts of off-grid power.
The new system has three key benefits:
Reduces downtime risk. In the past, our facility experienced between 7 and 10 days of downtime each year because of unreliable power delivery. Following an extended period of downtime after Hurricane Sandy, we decided it was time to implement a system that would protect our customers from any electricity-related production delays. Having such a system in place is crucial since we maintain just-in-time manufacturing and delivery schedules for most of our orders.
Improves energy efficiency. Thanks to our state-of-the-art onsite power generation system, we’ve now reached an 80 percent efficiency on our use of natural gas. That’s a huge improvement over traditional heating and cooling systems, which typically combine offsite power generation with onsite boilers. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, these traditional systems are 45% efficient at best. The efficiency we’ve achieved with CHP and solar allows us to operate at net zero energy usage during certain periods of the peak solar months.
Helps the environment. The new CHP and solar system also helps us play our part in protecting the environment, which is important to us and our customers. The system substantially reduces our carbon footprint and supports our ISO 14001:2015 environmental management initiatives.