Call it cogeneration, call it Combined Heat and Power (CHP). Say you are harvesting the waste heat created in generating electricity, and using the heat and the electricity.
The DOE is spending $156 million to explore returning to the central steam plant model.
It seems to make sense – but will require many miles of piping and many tons of concrete and a lot of (union?) labor to dig the access tunnels, install the steam distribution lines, and rig buildings to make use of locally generated steam for heating and cooling. Not to mention the new, locally (Not In My Back Yard?) sited cogeneration units.
If we can get past what we have today that wasn’t around last century when it worked – that is, lawyers and protesters – we face a daunting obstacle.
America used to make steel in large quantities. But mining ores creates rubble, slag, and refining ores creates toxic piles of slag. Working steel is dirty and energy intensive.
A tremendous lot of steel made in America has been rusting away for decades, in auto salvage lots, in scrap yards, in abandoned farm and industrial machinery, in untenanted buildings.
But not all the unused steel is simply rusting away, waiting to be captured and reworked to build today’s equipment and cars, and tomorrow’s steam lines.
A whole heck of a lot of scrap steel, brass, and other scrap metals have been sold and shipped to China. Some comes back as gadgets, tools, and other products, but much went into building their new factories and machinery – and won’t be coming back to us at any price.
CHP – Combined Heat and Power
So I see this CHP as being primarily distraction from the Obama administrations actions they want less scrutiny toward, and a way to buy off tree-huggers looking for real change. Because laying or updating new steam lines will be minor issues – once we find the steel to make the piping and build the CHP plants.
Oh, and we need to find the fuel to fire all these new plants.