India will need to build 700-900 million square meters of commercial and residential space every year up until 2030 to meet the needs of a booming urban populace. The sector’s energy demand is anticipated to rise by at least four times in this time frame.
Large-scale, low-carbon, and cost-effective solutions are therefore necessary to address this sector’s energy needs. We have identified trigeneration as such a viable alternative: with the advantage of simultaneously providing reliable power, heating and cooling supply using clean fuel, widespread adoption of this technology could significantly transform India’s energy landscape. Trigeneration could thus significantly reduce the electricity load of buildings without compromising commercial activity and electricity grid stability.
What is trigeneration?
Trigeneration is the simultaneous process of cooling, heating and power generation from only one fuel input. Typically, gas-fired generators are used to produce electricity. The byproduct is waste heat, which is then directed to absorption chillers and boilers for space cooling, hot water and related purposes. India’s growing access to natural gas, a typical input for trigeneration systems and the cleanest-burning hydrocarbon, will greatly enable wider adoption of trigeneration.
Trigeneration: Benefits and India relevance
Aggregating cross-sectoral demand, trigeneration has a potential of over 20,000 megawatts in India. Most relevant to sites where electricity, heating and cooling are all needed continually, trigeneration is ideal for data centres, industrial establishments, universities, hospitals, colleges, hotels, airports, and shopping malls.
Low payback period: Recent audits for trigeneration potential projects in India have identified payback period on trigeneration integration in industrial applications to be as little as 2-3 years
Buffer against electricity cost and outages: Using captive generation from gas-based trigeneration instead of electricity buffers industrial consumers against unforeseen spikes in electricity cost. As a relatively independent energy source, it can provide a reliable level of back-up power especially in critical applications, such as hospitals
Replacing thermal energy: :Using natural gas replaces coal dependence while nullifying the need for additional energy inputs for heat and cooling generation. Trigeneration systems can hence reduce an establishment’s greenhouse gas emissions by up to 50%
Energy efficiency: Trigeneration plants enable up to 80% of primary energy to reach end users, as opposed to only 25% in conventional power plants. And, producing electricity on-site minimizes transmission losses from grid-sourced electricity
Environmentally sustainable: Absorption chillers commonly use water or ammonia as a refrigerant, making trigeneration-based cooling a zero Ozone Depleting Potential and Global Warming Potential system.
Our venture into Trigeneration
Our acquisition of Edina, UK’s leading supplier, installer and maintenance provider for combined heat and power (CHP), gas and diesel power generation solutions enables us to capture the international market’s potential for trigeneration. Edina has set up its wholly-owned subsidiary in India as ‘EPSL Trigeneration Pvt Ltd’ with in-house capabilities of system design and feasibility study.
Edina’s turnkey services have earned the company over 30 awards in the UK, including the Queen’s Award for Enterprise: Innovation Category 2014. Its bespoke containerised solution is a flexible, replicable and readily scalable proposition which has enabled Edina to sustain a gross profit margin of 23% since 2014 and achieve compound annual sales growth of 20% since FY13.
This acquisition will also enable us to harness the potential of the UK’s £6 billion (INR 53,782 crore) energy efficiency market, while expanding our offering in the energy service contract model for trigeneration and Combined Heat & Power (CHP) technology. We will also expand Edina’s global footprint to a larger customer base, bringing global best practices to domestic markets. Till date, Mahindra and Mahindra (M&M) Trigeneration project of 800 kWe is under erection. EESL has also signed a service level agreement (SLA) with a Data Centre in Navi Mumbai to set up a 2.0 MW Trigeneration plant with 450 TR VAM (along with a fully standby system).