The traditional structure of the electrical utility market, green engineering issues, and environmental acceptability have resulted in a relatively small number of electric utilities. However, today's technology permits development of smaller, less expensive power systems, bringing in new, independent producers. Competitions from these independent producers along with the re-thinking of existing regulations have affected the conventional structure of electric utilities. The restructuring of the electric utility industry and the development of new "onsite and near-site" power generation technologies have opened up new possibilities for buildings, building complexes, and communities to generate and sell power. Competitive forces have created new challenges as well as opportunities for companies that can anticipate technological needs and emerging market trends.
Micro-cooling, heating, and power (micro-CHP) is decentralized electricity generation coupled with thermally activated components for residential and small commercial applications. A micro-CHP system consists of a prime mover, such as a reciprocating engine, which drives a generator, which produces electrical power. The waste heat from the prime mover is recovered and used to drive thermally activated components and to produce hot water or warm air through the use of heat exchangers.
Micro-CHP holds some of the answers to the efficiency, pollution, and deregulation issues that the utility industry currently faces. A review of micro-CHP systems, specific types of distributed power generation, and thermally-activated technologies are introduced and discussed in this book.
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