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Maine National Guard combined heat and power - four years later

By J.E. Jack Surash | Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Army, Energy and Sustainability | Aug. 20, 2019

WASHINGTON, D.C. – A Maine National Guard project came online four years ago, and the Combined Heat and Power (CHP) system provides energy resilience and enhances Army readiness to directly support the warfighter.

CHP, or cogeneration, is the use of an engine or power station to generate electricity and to use waste heat for heating or cooling purposes. This method is more efficient than conventional systems where the heat from generating electricity is wasted.

With the critical mission of providing medical evacuation rescue and support operations throughout Maine and New England, the Maine National Guard operates the Army Aviation Support Facility (AASF) in Bangor, Maine. Inside the hangar, the team can recover heat and re-use it to produce hot water to heat the facility through a 75 kilowatt CHP system.

The facility’s CHP system requires approximately 32% less power than what conventional electricity and hot water production would use. A 40-kilowatt solar panel array further adds to energy source diversification. The combination of the systems has led to a 30% decrease in energy consumption and produced about 65% of the facility requirements.

The modern CHP has increased the AASF's energy resilience and security, as these systems can disconnect from the grid and operate independently.

According to the Maine National Guard energy manager and project manager, these systems are designed specially to operate without being hooked up to the commercial power lines. The system is already entirely self-sufficient during the weekends and during half of the remaining weekdays.

The Maine National Guard project aimed to determine if CHP is a viable option for any Army National Guard facilities above the 5,000 Heating Degree Day (HDD) line. This line is a reference bisecting the continental United States to quantify the average number of days buildings need heat. Just within the Army National Guard, there are 734 ground maintenance buildings and 293 aviation support facilities north of this line.

This system is well on its way to debuting in other National Guard facilities nationwide.