District heating plants / Natural gas CHP
Increased efficiency and reliability for natural gas CHP plant operation
Installing Enerhash data centers in natural gas CHP plants has numerous operational, financial, and sustainability benefits. Having a steady base load consumer on site not only leads to increased efficiency and more reliable operations but also cuts the response time of the plant dramatically from several minutes to a couple of seconds, creating the opportunity to participate in the more lucrative primary sector on the balancing market.
Increase in uptime
from 36% to 90+%
Compared to the average 6-12 minutes
Reaction time below 3 seconds
Due to the efficient operation of gas engines
A dramatic decrease in specific CO2 emissions
Common operational challenges of CHP plants
The exact time and duration a CHP plant participates in grid balancing are highly unpredictable. Since demand for heat generation is volatile, the network receives a large amount of heat at once which cannot be stored for future use. Flexible pricing brings about another main challenge, prices are hard to be fixed based on clean spark spread. The pricing framework of natural gas purchase contracts is usually very flexible, leaving room for CHP plants to start engines at any time. However, firing up gas engines leads to huge operational costs, given the fact that these engines are optimized for continuous operation. Participating in grid-balancing tenders also shortens the life expectancy of gas engines since they need to be warmed up each time.
The Enerhash solution
Enerhash data centers can be placed on the site of the CHP plant as an on-demand power consumer providing a continuous base load for the power plant. Data centers can be connected directly to the gas engine or to a transformation with a 400V output. By controlling the consumption of the data centers, the operation of the gas engine can be optimized.
Having a base load consumption on site makes operations more predictable. Moreover, consumption of the data center can be adjusted entirely to optimize the plant’s revenue stream: supplying the data center with electricity when market prices are low, but switching the data center off within a matter of a second when market prices are peaking.
The bottom line
The data center provides an alternative hedging option to the CHP plant, offering a stable revenue stream from the electricity produced for a fixed price without having to manage sales on a daily basis or being exposed to the volatility of market price too much. The Uptime of the plant can be increased dramatically.The average response time of the plant drops to a matter of seconds since only the direction of the energy supplied has to be changed from the data center to the grid. This way, the opportunity to participate in primary sector tenders – frequency containment reserve tenders – opens for the CHP plant, which is more lucrative.
Key sustainability benefits of an on-site base load consumer
As for sustainability-related benefits, Blackstart can be avoided by having a continuous base load, resulting in major energy savings. By achieving more efficient operations of gas engines, CO2 emission goals become also easier to meet. In addition, the waste heat of servers (around 50°C) can be utilized for a variety of applications such as district heating, heating warehouses or greenhouses, etc.
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