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Publication Title | Conducting an Economic Feasibility Case Study for Distributed Technology Applications

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Conducting an Economic Feasibility Case Study for Distributed Technology

Applications

Rushan Wasim, Les Shephard, Dwain Rogers, Karen McGill

Texas Sustainable Energy Research Institute

University of Texas at San Antonio

rushanwasim@gmail.com, les.shephard@utsa.edu, dwain.rogers@utsa.edu, lge795@gmail.com

Abstract

As energy costs, emissions, demand for power quality and reliability continue to rise, an increasing number of building owners are starting to deploy distributed energy technology to mitigate their power consumption. This study evaluates the feasibility of deploying distributed technologies in an office building located in San Antonio, Texas with a focus on fuel cells and microturbines. These two technologies were selected because of their unique attributes and performance characteristics which include fuel flexibility, low emissions, ramp up times, and power quality characteristics which meet building occupant demands. The study also considers primary power (with grid as backup) and supplemental power applications (peak shaving).

The office building has a nominal base load of 45kW and maximum peak loads approaching 60kW (based on actual 2012 data). Our results demonstrate that both technologies meet requirements for power quality, demand, and reliability. Furthermore, the emissions are reduced and energy costs can be managed effectively. Both technologies can be retrofitted into existing building electrical systems with ease. Economic analysis indicate that these applications must approach an installed cost of $1200/kW to compete with current energy costs. Neither technology meets this price point today, but microturbines coupled with an absorption cooler is viable and is planned to be deployed next year as a test case. Even with co-generation, the price of fuel cells must drop by over $2000/kW to be economical for our intended application.

Objective

Assess Building Compatibility with Fuel Cell Connectivity

Conduct an assessment of the compatibility of an existing “remote building” with the connectivity challenges associated with fuel cell deployment applications working with building-specific information provided by the patron company. Key questions may include what systems (or subsystems) exist that are readily adaptable to fuel cell augmentation, what systems must be augmented and what are interconnectivity issues. The outcome of this assessment is intended to provide input to an economic analyses to better understand and define the cost profile associated with a “pilot” fuel cell deployment. This paper focuses on conducting a proper economic feasibility case study for fuel cells and microturbines.

Proceedings of the 2015 ASEE Gulf-Southwest Annual Conference Organized by The University of Texas at San Antonio Copyright © 2015, American Society for Engineering Education

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