Colorado State University Generates Electricity from Waste Heat and Reduces Utility Expenses

Colorado State University’s main campus central heating plant has been converted to a combined heat and power plant with the addition of an 800-kilowatt steam turbine generator. The steam turbine produces electric power and reduces campus utility bills by using energy that would otherwise be wasted.

The steam turbine works with the plant’s existing pressure-reducing valves to reduce the boiler’s high-pressure steam to a lower pressure used for heating and process needs throughout the main campus. Construction costs totaled $885,000.

The estimated electrical savings to the university is over 5.6 million kilowatt-hours, or $260,000 per year, giving the project a 30 percent annual return on its investment. Over a 20-year period, Colorado State expects to save $7 million in utility expenses.

Fort Collins Utilities supported the project with incentives of $54,450 from the Electric Efficiency Program, based on the projected summer peak power production of the new system. The annual electrical energy produced is equivalent to that needed to supply about 650 homes per year. This new system generates electricity that would otherwise come from the regional electric grid and will reduce carbon dioxide emissions by more than 2,600 tons each year.