Cogeneration is a big word, but refers to a simple concept — it is the generation of both heat and electricity via the same process, thereby extracting a greater amount of useful energy from the same amount of fuel.
In most power plants around the world, two thirds of the energy produced is wasted as excess heat. This means that the fuel is not being used to its maximum efficiency.
In the process of cogeneration, some of the heat generated by burning fuel is captured and recycled for other manufacturing processes, or to heat buildings. By using cogeneration, industrial facilities can extract greater amounts of useful energy from fuel, increasing fuel efficiency. This results in reduced fuel consumption, which translates to reduced emissions of harmful greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide.
ExxonMobil aims both to improve the efficiency of its operations and take care of the environment. Consequently, it employs cogeneration at over 100 installations in more than 30 locations worldwide, including one that was opened in October 2017 at its Singapore Refinery site at Pioneer Road. This has met with commendation from the National Environment Agency (NEA).
“Cogeneration technology is an energy-efficient solution for facilities that require both thermal energy and electricity. ExxonMobil’s investment in such technology will bring about both cost savings and carbon emissions reduction,” says Ronnie Tay, chief executive officer of the NEA.
“I applaud ExxonMobil’s efforts and encourage others to similarly step up their efforts in making their manufacturing processes and facilities more energy efficient.”
ExxonMobil recently completed construction of a new 84-megawatt cogeneration plant at its Singapore Refinery. This brings ExxonMobil’s total cogeneration capacity in Singapore to over 440 megawatts, which is sufficient to meet most of its power and steam needs at the integrated manufacturing site – its largest globally.
The latest cogeneration plant uses natural gas and waste heat from the refinery to generate electricity and steam to power plant operations.
“This new cogeneration plant investment is an example of our commitment to using energy more efficiently,” says Gan Seow Kee, chairman and managing director of ExxonMobil Asia Pacific Pte Ltd.
“We continue to make strategic investments that help improve our manufacturing competitiveness in Singapore while minimising environmental impact.”
The newly completed cogeneration plant increases the Singapore Refinery’s energy efficiency by 4 to 5 per cent, resulting in a reduction of 265 kilotonnes of carbon dioxide emissions per year. That is equivalent to removing 90,000 cars — more than the total number of new vehicles registered here last year — from Singapore’s roads.