Project Profile: Abington Memorial Hospital Co-Generation Project

Firm name: PWI Engineering Inc. 

Project building name and location: Abington Memorial Hospital Co-Generation Project, Abington, PA.

Type of building and type of project: Hospital, Renovation

Project completion date and project duration: December 2011

Engineering challenges and solutions:

The Abington Memorial Hospital Co-Generation Project is a piece of the overall strategy in Abington Health’s strategic energy plan to become more sustainable. A plan, which is in development progress, outlines objectives and conservation initiatives at all three (3) campus locations: Abington Memorial Hospital, Lansdale Hospital, and Warminster Hospital. In June 2009, Abington Memorial Hospital employed PWI Engineering to assist in the development of their strategic energy plan.

An evaluation of the hospitals mechanical and electrical systems was performed to identify and prioritize energy conservation strategies. The co-generation project is the first project to commence. The project consists of one 4.5-megawatt combustion turbine that produces steam as a by-product. Benefits range from significant annual energy savings, decreasing boiler dependence by reducing usage by 50% and therefore reducing emissions produced by both the hospital and the electric utility.

As part of the Project in October 2009 PWI submitted and subsequently won the application for funding from “PA Green Energy Works” Combined Heat and Power, Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection in the sum of $3,000,000.

The development of the strategic energy plan for Abington Memorial Hospital and the calculation of the resulting energy and cost savings required the following steps and methods of analysis:

  1. Identification of present energy and possible future energy sources
  2. Development of trending profiles for availability and cost of each energy source
  3. Creating a list (>30) of alternative technologies and concepts for energy sourcing—all for the distribution of electricity, hot water, and steam in the hospital
  4. Screening the list down to a short list of 12 alternative technologies to which simple economics (simple payback comparisons) and environmental impacts were assessed
  5. Developing a short list of competitive concepts with desirable environmental impacts, for which detailed life cycle costing was conducted over a 20-year cycle; present value and average annual total owning and operating cost (average cash flow) comparisons were made. Life cycle costing tools included: cost estimating, identifying maintenance and operating cost scenarios, 8,760-hour computer models for profiling the energy performance, and real-time economic values of Abington Memorial Hospital
  6. Conducting sensitivity studies on the life cycle studies to challenge the results should energy prices inflate at varying rates. Monthly computations of demand, heat recovery, and purchased energy requirements were derived in order to come up with the annual savings and performance criteria for the life cycle studies
  7. Conducting “practical sanity checks” on the application of the technology, testing maintenance, reliability, operability, noise, and vibration.

The goals and objectives of the Co-Generation Project included:

  • GOAL: Installation of a 4.5-megawatt combustion turbine system (Co-Generation system)
    • Objective 1: (economic benefits) include per year savings of:
      • Energy/fuel cost savings estimate $2,260,666
      • Energy/fuel generation/production Value estimate $3,279,678
      • Value of energy/units components estimate $7,053,151
    • Objective 2: (environmental benefits) Reduce the amount of air contaminants to preserve, enhance, and protect our air and water sources to include the following:
      • Nitrogen Oxides- 69,343 lbs. yearly, Sulfur Oxides- 301,376 lbs. yearly Mercury- 1,951 grams/yr.
      • Water- 13,145,279 gallons of water saved yearly
    • Objective 3: (energy benefits) Decrease the demand for electricity provided by the local utility by generating 38,324,427 KWH on-site electricity. This will decrease the demand on the power utility by 4,472 KW per year.

    Cogenerating systems are able to increase efficiency by capturing and utilizing excess thermal energy produced during electricity production to power heating and hot water systems. The cogeneration unit at Abington Memorial Hospital will increase energy efficiency to 64% percent. Utilizing the steam by-product decreases the boiler usage by 115,215 MMBTU and cut demand over 50%.

    This essentially replaces the production of the 536hp Boiler and as a result significantly reduces hospital-produced emissions. Energy savings realized through cogeneration reduces the demand that hospitals place on the local power grid. Cogenerating facilities generally reach twice the energy efficiency of coal power plants while producing significantly fewer emissions.

    As a result, air pollution decreases even as the hospital’s energy source becomes more reliable. In addition to improvements in air quality, fewer emissions indirectly improve water quality since there will be fewer pollutants in the atmosphere. The project is set to be completed December 2011.



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