With the research project “Advancing the Market Penetration of Trigeneration in Urban Regions as a Contribution to the Energy Policy Turnaround – TriMa (Trigeneration Market)”, the Technische Hochschule Nürnberg Georg Simon Ohm (Nuremberg Institute of Technology) and their research partner ENERGIEAGENTUR nordbayern GmbH (Energy Agency of Northern Bavaria) supported the energy policy turnaround in Germany. Trigeneration (CCHP: combined cooling, heat and power) combines generation and usage of electricity, heat and cooling from fossil and renewable fuels. Thermal chillers are used to convert exhaust heat from cogeneration plants (CHP: Combined heat and power) to cooling. However, in spite of the highly efficient and forward-looking aspects of the technology, especially in terms of climate protection, Trigeneration has not yet penetrated the German market. The project’s name is a combination of the words “Trigeneration” and “integrated market analysis” (TriMa). The project duration spans the time period from January 1st, 2015 to October 31st, 2018.
The overall goal of the research project is to identify and evaluate the usage barriers of Trigeneration and to develop appropriate solutions to enhance its market penetration. The TriMa-project shall analyze potential reasons for the currently low utilization rate of Trigeneration in Germany. It is assumed, that the obstacles are not primarily economical or technical. It is more likely that Trigeneration technology is not widely used in Germany due to information deficits and other aspects, such as a non-transparent legal framework. Therefore, the TriMa research project analyses potential technical, economic as well as any other potential barriers for the implementation of Trigeneration. Gathering this information should allow the development of methods for a higher market penetration of Trigeneration.
Energy policies have undergone great changes in recent years: the German withdrawal from nuclear energy led to a cessation of secure power plant output in the base load range. As a result, new models and concepts to provide energy are being continuously developed in addition to the increasing capacities of highly fluctuating solar and wind power sources. In Germany, about 18 percent of the German electricity is produced by heat and power cogeneration plants. The European neighbor countries Denmark and the Netherlands, traditionally show a significantly higher usage rate of cogeneration than Germany. A widespread usage of CHP is a precondition for an intensive use of Trigeneration technology.
For the cooling with Trigeneration, two technologies can be used: sorption processes (absorption or adsorption technology) or thermo-mechanic processes. The implementation of thermally driven chillers, will be generally economical, if heat can be accessed easily and at low costs at the point where cooling is needed. In contrast to cooling processes via conventional electrically driven chillers, Trigeneration technology presents a sustainable way of cooling. This leads to a reduction in the consumption of valuable electricity. In addition, the CHP power plant output can be planned and used to cover the residual load, i.e., the rest demand of regulated power plants. The technology could contribute greatly to the sustainable production of electricity in Germany in conjunction with other highly fluctuating energy sources as wind and solar power. Trigeneration does not only ensure a stable supply of electricity, but also has positive consequences for society and environment. Moreover, municipal housing associations and private house owners benefit from an efficient energy supply. The investment in more efficient CCHP systems is generally less costly than the renovation of buildings. Furthermore, it prevents rising residential rents as a result of allocating the renovation costs to the lessee.
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