Finding Success in Remote Locations with Combined Heat & Power
Similar to other integrated natural gas utilities, ATCO has numerous natural gas regulating stations in remote locations throughout the province of Alberta. These stations have onsite instrumentation but seldom have access to grid-tied electricity. Historically, ATCO has relied on solar PV arrays, thermoelectric generators (TEG) or battery storage to meet the energy needs of the remote sites. However, these solutions can be relatively expensive, inefficient and present challenges during the cold and dark winters experienced in the Alberta.
The solution to ATCO’s challenge must reliably meet the energy needs of the instrumentation year-round. The solution must also cost less than an electric-grid connection and be cost-comparable to an equivalent solar PV or TEG + battery storage solution.
ATCO’s solution is the AISIN Coremo 1.5kW natural gas micro combined heat and power (mCHP) unit. This technology could be deployed to remote regulating stations in a weather-proof container small enough to fit on existing easements. The mCHP unit has been proven to deliver consistent and reliable heat and power year-round using natural gas, which is an existing onsite fuel source at ATCO’s remote locations. Additionally, the unit’s heat output could be used to maintain gas temperatures or supplement building heat and the power could be used for the instrumentation requirements.
In 2016, ATCO deployed the AISIN mCHP unit at a natural gas regulating station in Edmonton, Alberta to verify the reliability of the technology. The unit was operated at full capacity (1.5kW) for over a year, which allowed for testing during the summer and winter conditions. The outcome was that the AISIN mCHP unit met expectations and operated seamlessly during the pilot period and continues to operate successfully today.