Why is cogeneration the best renewable energy option for feedlots?

Cogeneration and feedlots. It's not your typical conversation over a beer at the pub, or over a dinner with friends, however it is a pretty beneficial match that isn't that well-known. According to Meat & Livestock Australia, the red meat supply chain spends an estimated $1.3 billion per annum on fossil fuel energy, of which $512 million or 39% of all of the energy costs may be attributed to energy used at feedlots. These are some pretty staggering numbers and the effect that it is having on the environment and other factors isn't a beneficial one. This was recognised back in 2017, and a report was released in 2018 regarding the fact that an opportunity exists for the red meat industry to counter this and reduce power and thermal energy costs via the use of onsite renewable energy technologies.

Power Lines

You are probably wondering how this all ties in with cogeneration, however keep reading and it will all start to make a lot more sense. If you have any questions, or would like to talk to one of our friendly team regarding any of cogeneration-based questions or queries you may have, give us a call on 0448 307 282 and we would be happy to discuss them with you.

What is cogeneration?

So, let's start at the beginning. Cogeneration, also known as CHP or ‘Combined Heat & Power’, is an electricity generation method that aims to capture losses that are typically seen in relation to conventional electricity generation processes. When taking a look at cogeneration in its most basic form, it is the generation of both energy and usable heat through an efficient ecological method of power production. The levels of fuel utilised in this kind of process sit at around 92% or so, meaning the losses suffered are a lot lower than traditional energy generation (which is about 40%!).

Cogeneration

Where can cogeneration be used?

Almost anywhere! Think resorts, mines, aquatic centres, jails and coal seam gas well-heads, just to name a few. The location of interest in this case however is feedlots - areas or building where livestock are fed - in which cogeneration can be most definitely be utilised.

What fuel can be used for cogeneration?

This is one of the great things about CHP - many different fuels can be used. It is worth noting that cogeneration loses its eco-friendly approach when it is combined with diesel or other fossil fuels as an energy source, but other renewable energy options are considerably more beneficial. Choices such as natural gas and biogas are options which can fuel a CHP generator, and are also are a lot kinder to the environment.

Why choose cogeneration?

There are a huge variety of benefits when it comes to cogeneration, including:

  • Higher efficiency levels when it comes to production of electricity.
  • Energy savings, as heat that is wasted through traditional energy production is captured by a cogeneration plant.
  • A cogeneration plant will create 2 forms of energy - electricity and heat - whereas standard generators only produce electricity.
  • Reduced grid demand charges as your peak power demand is reduced.
  • Greenhouse gas abatement from transmission losses compared with grid power.
  • Reduced or eliminated costs for running backup diesel generator.
  • Lower ongoing maintenance costs.
  • More eco-friendly than traditional electricity production.
  • Reduced energy wastage.

And the list goes on! These are just a few of the benefits that support a change to using cogeneration.

How will cogeneration benefit feedlots?

Cogeneration can benefit feedlots - it's as simple as that. But how, you are probably asking? To put things into perspective, we have listed out some of the major, and most important, beneficial points when it comes to using the CHP method for feedlots.

  • There is a large availability of biomass from within the supply chain to assist in the creation of biogas
  • Shield feedlots against the rising costs of grid power and carbon price liability
  • Assist in giving red meat a 'clean and green' name with lower environmental impact
  • Lower energy costs (diesel reciprocating engines for onsite power or connection to grid are among the most expensive options around, so the use of cogeneration considerably assists with lowering energy costs)
  • Improved reliability and quality of power, as feedlots tend to be in rural or semi-rural areas where power quality can be low, and brownouts/blackouts can happen frequently.

The report also suggests that through the use of onsite wastes, such as clean outs and spoiled materials, supplemented by low cost biomasses, such as forestry industry residues and cotton gin wastes, as CHP fuel, a feedlot could achieve a fuel cost saving of around 80 - 93% within 2 years using biogas and cogeneration as a major energy production source.

Inoplex

Your knowledgeable cogeneration specialists

If you have any questions regarding cogeneration in relation to feedlots or other industry properties, we would love to discuss this with you. Give Inoplex a call on 0448 307 282 today!

Resources:

Meat & Livestock Australia - Conversion of Biomass to Renewable Energy at a Feedlot (2018): https://www.mla.com.au/research-and-development/search-rd-reports/final-report-details/Conversion-of-Biomass-to-Renewable-Energy-at-a-Feedlot/3757