North Carolina State University Completes 11 Megawatt Combined Heat and Power (CHP) Facility

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IDEA Member NC State holds ribbon-cutting to celebrate plant expected to save $4.3 million in first year of operation.

At a ceremony in Raleigh on Wednesday, November 14, North Carolina State University Chancellor Randy Woodson cut the ribbon on an 11 megawatt combined heat and power (CHP) facility that is expected to generate $4.3 million of energy savings in the first year of operation. The highly efficient new facility at North Carolina State, a member of the International District Energy Association (IDEA), has been servicing approximately 8 million gross square feet of campus building space since coming online September 14.

“IDEA commends North Carolina State University for installing CHP to provide clean reliable energy for its campus,” says Robert P. Thornton, President & CEO. “CHP has proven to be effective in reducing regional greenhouse gas emissions, improving energy efficiency and providing additional benefits of enhanced reliability when electricity grid service is impaired or knocked off line by storms. The US Department of Energy and the Obama White House have set a goal to add 40 gigawatts of CHP capacity in the US by 2020 and this investment at NC State is an important step forward toward that goal.”

The recently-completed renovation of the university's Cates Utility Plant on campus increases the facility's efficiency by roughly 35 percent. It is also expected to reduce the university's greenhouse gas emissions by 8 percent, building on a 7 percent reduction from 2008 to 2010 and moving NC State closer toward its goal of climate neutrality by 2050.

Following eight years of planning, the renovation began in January 2011 as a $61 million performance contract with Ameresco, Inc., which guaranteed $4.3 million of energy savings in the first year. Utilizing the state's largest performance contract at the time of construction, the facility will pay for itself through energy savings over 17 years, without using any additional state funding.

Two natural gas-fired 5.5 megawatt combustion turbines and two 50,000 pound per hour heat recovery steam generators have replaced aging boilers that served the campus for more than 50 years. An interactive online graphic showing how the new facility operates is available at

In addition to energy savings and helping NC State become more sustainable, the facility is also a resource for teaching students about energy efficient technologies.

The International District Energy Association (IDEA) is an independent, non-profit industry association formed in 1909 with headquarters in Westborough, Massachusetts which represents the interests of over 1,600 members from 25 countries involved in operation, design, construction and optimization of district heating, district cooling and CHP (cogeneration) systems, with a majority of members in North America, as well as Europe, Middle East and Asia Pacific.

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