The Benefits of Combined Heat & Power Systems for Biogas-Fueled Operations

The Benefits of Combined Heat & Power Systems for Biogas-Fueled Operations

By Michael Turwitt | President & CEO of 2G CENERGY® & Team Gemini Combined Heat and Power (CHP) Systems Advisor

With different waste streams throughout the U.S. providing promising and plentiful sources of biogas, there is high potential of biogas CHPs. Reaching highest efficiency in power generation becomes an important factor.

The demand for alternative energies in the U.S. continues to grow. EPA rules require the States to develop plans on how to lower greenhouse gas emission by 2016, and renewable energy sources become the tool of choice for advanced power generation technologies. Biogas has a huge potential to contribute to this environmental change and will play a central role in the new age of energy production.


CHP Engines can provide electricity and thermal energy, an invaluable combination of resources.

Biogas Combined Heat and Power Systems can reach highest efficiencies and turn this valuable fuel into money, instead of flaring it to the sky. To clarify the term, a true CHP System is far more than a simple genset. To reach best outcomes it is necessary to not only produce electricity, but to also capture the heat that can be used for various thermal applications. A good Combined Heat and Power System should include a combustion unit, thermal energy extraction components, as well as thermal energy distribution technology with integrated controls and grid connection. The better these components are geared to each other, the better the outcomes that will be achieved.

Unlike natural gas, biogas can vary heavily in its composition and quality. That requires engines that are specialized for the operation with low BTU gases and customized components for the gas treatment. Good biogas energy conversion technology can utilize a variety of biogases to generate electricity and heat. There a four main categories that need specialized treatment and knowledge:

  • Biogases derived from the fermentation process (anaerobic digestion);
  • Biogases abstracted from natural biodegradable materials (wet or dry digestion);
  • Biogases from bacterial decomposition processes of organic material like it is contained in landfills (LFG); and,
  • Biogases from the fermentation and incineration process of sewage sludge water at waste water treatment plants.

These complex variations require biogas CHP Systems that are composed of advanced and optimized biogas engines, components and materials that are skillfully geared towards each other in order to meet the needs for each situation.

Such a perfect harmonization of components can be most easily found in modular CHP Systems through which not only the quality of single components is ensured, but also the way they work together. This fine-tuning requires a lot of testing and experience to be mastered.

Other advantages that come with pre-manufactured modular CHP Systems are the ease of installation and commissioning, better functionality and ease of operation, as well as service and support advantages. Engineering a CHP System from the ground up allows customized installation and the implementation in greatly confined spaces, but also poses a lot disadvantages. It may take years to plan and install and makes it more difficult to foresee the overall project costs right away. Modular Systems can be installed in just a couple of days and no system engineering is required.

A good CHP System not only delivers maximum efficiency but also, and equally important, reliability and functionality.

Michael Turwitt

Michael Turwitt is an adviser to Team Gemini in the area of Combined Heat and Power Systems. He is President & CEO of 2G CENERGY®, a Team Gemini member company. Michael has more than 30 years’ experience in capital goods, sales & marketing, business development, engineering, project management, and energy investments, including developing, constructing and commissioning power plants, cogeneration and distributed energy systems.

Michael TurwittPresident & CEO2G CENERGY®