Trigeneration energy center: just what you need in Russian reality

    Electricity in Russia is such a thing that they can suddenly turn off, which can rise in price or become worse in quality. If you have a data center, hospital, shopping center or other important facility, it’s logical to take care of your power source: starting from a certain amount of energy consumed, it is beneficial not to be powered from the city, but to build your own energy center.

    Photos of the energy center in Naberezhnye Chelny

    Given that for all these objects (especially for the data center) not only electricity, but also heat and cold are needed, large customers rely on their energy centers - and we are engaged in their design, construction and implementation, and we use a very interesting trigeneration scheme, which allows you to immediately receive heat, cold and electricity without unnecessary transformations.

    Under the cut - photos of the energy center, a short story about its structure and trigeneration in general.

    Why do we need energy centers?

    Electricity costs money. In many cases, it is cheaper to build an energy center than to carry out infrastructure and regularly pay the city for food. The question "how much will it cost electricity, heat, water and cold after putting the facility into operation" today is no longer a secondary one.

    Often even the choice of site takes place not only on the basis of a convenient location for future customers, but also in terms of the possibility and cost of providing the necessary energy resources. It is difficult to plan something when the planned electricity tariffs after putting the facility into operation increase 1.5-2 times with the wording “the newly commissioned facility has not been included in the balance of the generating supplier”.


    One of the solutions in this situation may be the construction of own generating capacities (own energy center) on the basis of gas reciprocating or gas turbine plants with heat recovery using absorption refrigeration machines (ABHM). The whole trick is precisely that all the “excesses” of heat or cold are not “dumped” somewhere in the process of generating electricity, and are used for the respective consumers of the facility.

    The principle is this: when operating a gas piston or gas turbine installation, from 1 kW of generated electricity, we can get from 1 to 2 kW of thermal energy as hot water. In filled and operating data centers, the electrical load is quite uniform throughout the year, and the need for cold is comparable to active electrical IT power. From hot water with the help of ABHM we get cold with an average coefficient of 0.75. Thus, depending on the type of power plants, from their heat you can get from 50% to 100% of the necessary cold. The result is an extremely energy efficient system. The lack of heat, as well as the reserve, is ensured by ordinary hot water boilers, the efficiency of which is close to 99%.

    Only low-pressure natural gas is consumed from the outside; the output is electricity, heat for heating and cold for air conditioning. At the same time, reliability exceeds standard suppliers, and the cost of resources is much lower. The cost of electricity consumed is up to 2 rubles / kWh and lower, which corresponds to external tariffs for voltages of 110 kV and higher.

    The combined generation of electricity, heat and cold can not only reduce energy costs by 2 or more times, but also reduce the amount of electricity used for ventilation and air conditioning. This is achieved due to the complete or partial replacement of the compressors of the cooling system on the ABXM, which practically does not consume electricity. The experience of our projects shows that the payback of our own energy center with the right technical solution is only 2-3 years, after which the decision begins to bring additional profit to the owner.

    The energy center is an independent, fully automated engineering structure operating in an autonomous mode, which includes power plants based on a gas engine and an attached electric generator.

    What are the benefits?

    During the construction of a high-availability data center, the main source of electricity should be an input independent of the power system, traditionally implemented on the basis of diesel generator sets (a “city” at levels higher than TIER III according to TIA 942 and TIER III according to Uptime cannot be the main one).

    The average cost of 1 kWh for diesel varies from 7-10 rubles. For these reasons, the “main” input remains such only on paper, and electricity in the normal mode is obtained according to classical schemes from electric networks, that is, from an additional source according to the standard. A small data center with a total capacity of 1 to 2 MW will be connected to electric networks at a voltage of 6 or 10 kV, and will buy electricity at the appropriate tariff group (from 3 to 4 rubles / kW * h). With this approach, cold in the cooling center of the data center produces vapor compression refrigeration machines (PCHM) that consume network electricity.

    The cooling capacity of the PCCM cycle is related to power consumption through ε - refrigeration coefficient.

    ε = Q/P

    For central Russia, ε is approximately 3.0. This means that to generate 1.0 kW of cold, an electric power of 0.33 kW is required.

    At the same time, it is more than realistic to establish your own gas energy center (where there is a trigeneration system). As a result, the necessary amount of cold can be obtained using ABHM without the use of traditional (and expensive) compressors. The experience in designing and backing up systems has been accumulated quite extensively, therefore, even for TIER III and TIER IV there is no fundamental problem in the construction and certification of such an object.

    Specific example

    One example is the energy center of the ESSEN shopping center in Naberezhnye Chelny, built by CROC in 2007. The project paid for itself in over 2 years, even with incomplete loading. We are currently working on several more similar projects.

    Here is his card:
    • Type of construction - new construction
    • Location of the construction site - Naberezhnye Chelny, Republic of Tatarstan
    • Stage of construction - 1 stage
    • Purpose - electric, heat and cold supply of its own shopping and entertainment center.
    • The reason is the lack of technical ability to connect to electrical networks.
    • Nominal capacities - electricity 2 MW - actual consumption 70%, thermal energy 4 Gcal - actual power consumption 3.7 Gcal, cooling consumption - 1.2 MW, actual consumption 1 MW
    • Execution of thermal power station - container
    • Equipment - KSU - Caterpillar (USA), boilers - Buderus (Germany), ABHM - Carrier (China)

    And here are his photographs:

    View of the cogeneration gas piston unit (KGU) inside, expansion tanks:

    Container with a backup diesel generator

    Gas distribution point (GRP) of the energy center:

    Gas piston engine (GPU) CATERPILLAR:

    Absorption refrigeration machine (ABHM) inside:

    Heat exchangers of the boiler room heat exchanger:

    GPU inside - adjustment:

    utilizer exhaust gases

    connection busbar power panel GPU:

    Cogeneration-piston unit (KSU):

    Dry cooler (Drycoolers) KSU:


    KSU - chimneys, Drycoolers, the exhaust heat recovery s gases:


    • Building your own energy center using turnkey trigeneration technology will cost about 2000 Euro / kWe. This is quite comparable to the price of connecting to external networks.
    • Its energy center for the data center does not lead to an increase in investment, but significantly reduces the energy consumption of the data center and its OPEX as a whole.
    • Reliability and efficiency of the data center are increasing.
    • The choice of site can be approached more freely: the energy independence of the facility from local infrastructure is achieved, which can be an important advantage.
    • The construction of the energy center is carried out in parallel with the construction of the main facility and is 1.5-2 years in terms of time.
    • CROC has experience in the construction of such facilities, so if interested, please contact to discuss specific issues. I am ready to answer general questions in the comments.

    UPD Many questions on the payback and the economic part. In general, it all depends on the specific project. General approaches are as follows (the numbers in the calculations are approximate, may vary in different situations and regions):

    1. It is important to provide for the most complete and stable sale of all produced resources. If the consumption is uneven (day / night, seasonality), it is possible to “cut out” only the stable part by the energy center, and take out surges from the network. In the sense that it is not necessary to take the energy center under the peak, it is economically justified with a stable load higher, for example, 60%.
    2. At cost more than half the cost is the price of fuel. 270 cubic meters per 1 MWh, for example, for example, 4 rubles per cubic meter and 8,200 hours a year (taking into account the regulations and downtime) - this is about 9 million rubles. Let the service, staff, taxes, oil and so on still be the same, although less experience. We get OPEX 18 million rubles or 2.19 rubles \ kW * h. A plug with an external tariff, let 4 rubles \ kWh be about 15 million rubles for electricity and at least 2 million rubles for heat. At large stations, the effect is even greater.
    3. The cost of an energy center depends on many parameters. Cogeneration of 1 MW (electricity and heat) in a container with one machine, even when connected to networks, costs less than 1 million euros “turnkey”. A more complex solution, including trigeneration, is more expensive. For example, 1.5 million euros / year savings of 17 million rubles = 3.5 years. Using cold improves the situation by half. And if you take into account the cost of connecting to electrical networks - the project can pay off at the start.

    A detailed calculation for a specific situation is ready to provide upon request by e-mail

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