Remote monitoring and control of combined heat and power

Paul Boughton

Combined heat and power (CHP) manufacturer ENER-G has developed a two-in-one CHP remote monitoring and control system and energy management system (EMS).

The new technology, called E-Power, will optimise performance of both the CHP system and wider energy plant within a building - providing cost and carbon savings for customers.

"There are too many poor examples of CHP being installed as a ‘fit and forget’ technology, without proper integration with the master building energy management system", said Chris Marsland, ENER-G Technical Director, who led the in house R&D team. "E-Power doesn't just provide an isolated view of CHP performance, it facilitates precise control and measurement of energy production and use across the entire site. This will lead to better visibility of energy use, maintenance requirements and performance targeting."

In 1984 ENER-G collaborated with the University of Manchester to pioneer the first modern CHP remote monitoring and control system. This made low carbon CHP technology viable on a global industrial scale. The R&D team was able to build on this experience and  knowledge to develop the new E-Power system, investing £1 million in the project.

Traditionally CHP systems operate independently of a building's energy centre controls or metering. This often means that the boiler or system plant controllers are not optimised to extract the maximum value from the CHP unit.

E-Power is built into ENER-G's CHP units

E-Power is built into ENER-G's CHP units  and monitors and controls more than 200 parameters on each CHP unit. This improves engine control by monitoring ignition energy levels, knock levels  and spark advance. It also enhances synchronising routines and power control.

The system alerts ENER-G's national service centre to any anomalies or operational issues, enabling them to run diagnostics, rectify problems remotely, or schedule an engineer visit, if necessary.

Customers can gain instant insights into their CHP performance via a touch screen mounted onto the unit. This supplies data that can be accessed in graphical form and at various levels of detail. 

The E-Vision web portal provides total visibility of the entire energy plant, including the cogeneration system. It supplies live operational, monitoring and control  data, as well as historical information via  a cloud-based system. As such, data is accessible 24/7 via smartphones, tablets or PCs.

By presenting this data graphically and at various levels of detail, E-Vision provides a powerful operational improvement, compliance and reporting tool.  It automatically generates email reports and alerts, which can be customised to a client's requirements  to keep them appraised of all aspects of energy performance and assist with management reporting.

E-Vision helps improve proactive maintenance since trend analysis software highlights minor defects and issues before they escalate. ENER-G is able to monitor the wider building energy infrastructure to  optimise operation of the CHP system, boiler plant, absorption chiller, thermal stores, etc.  By taking a holistic approach, a site-wide energy reduction plan can be implemented to maximise cost and carbon savings.

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