When I was in graduate school I wanted an internship for the summer to get some experience and get ready for the real world. I looked around a bunch of opportunities, applied, and got some interviews. One of these was with Virginia Power, which had been bought by Dominion Resources just prior to my interview. I grew up with Virginia Power, it was still logo’d everywhere, so that’s how I thought of them.
In any case, this was before most places had web sites, the Internet was still mostly text-based (Archie, Gopher, etc.) and so I went to the local library to do some research. I looked up a bunch of articles on the company. In one article, I saw a note about how some of the larger industrial companies in the Richmond, VA area were working with Virginia Power to build cogeneration plants. They were using waste heat, usually steam, to produce some electricity onsite. Virginia Power supplied and maintained the generators and the company lowered their electric bill a bit by producing some power onsite.
This idea for cogeneration at restaurants makes a bunch of sense and it’s a similar idea. a small engine that can use waste vegetable oil to produce power. It can save the restaurant power, and the costs of having oil removed. And it’s local, potentially giving them power in an emergency as well.
Is it green? It’s better than a diesel generator, but it’s probably less efficient and more polluting than a larger, more central plant. Or it is? There is a decent loss in sending electricity across transmission lines, perhaps as high as 7%. So if that’s the case than is this 10% worse from a pollution standpoint? I’d like to see some research done on this to make some sense of what the carbon cost is.
From a cost standpoint, if you can lease one for $450 and save about $800, that’s interesting.