Summary

Cities, communities and campuses throughout the nation are actively seeking more resilient, sustainable energy infrastructure to support economic growth and achieve environmental objectives. District energy microgrids incorporate combined heat and power (CHP) to deliver greater energy efficiency and optimize the use of local resources while strengthening the local and regional power grids.

The International District Energy Association (IDEA), the Microgrid Resources Coalition (MRC), and the Environmental and Energy Study Institute (EESI) held a briefing providing policy guidance and showcasing proven technologies and exemplary cases that illuminate the potential for more robust U.S. investment in district energy microgrids.

District energy systems distribute thermal energy (steam, hot water, and/or chilled water) through a network of underground pipes to multiple buildings in an area, such as a downtown district, college or hospital campus. By aggregating the heating and air conditioning supply for multiple buildings, district energy systems optimize thermal energy efficiency. Moreover, they can use surplus heat from power plants, industrial processes and local renewable sources to cut emissions, reduce energy consumption and strengthen local economies. Combined heat and power (CHP) refers to facilities that simultaneously generate electricity and useful heat, thereby achieving very high efficiencies—more than 80 percent in many cases. Microgrids are robust electricity networks that can be operated in parallel with, or independently of, the utility grid. These three technologies complement each other and can be implemented together, optimizing the whole energy system and creating much greater resilience, which is especially important when extreme weather events occur.

Learn more with these brief informational videos: