Cornell University

Oct. 27, 2014
To improve efficiency and reduce emissions, Cornell University replaced coal-fired boilers in 2009 with two 15 MWe Titan 130 gas turbine generator sets for its combined heat and power plant.

To improve efficiency and reduce emissions, Cornell University replaced coal-fired boilers in 2009 with two 15 MWe Titan 130 gas turbine generator sets for its combined heat and power plant.

Previously, the campus in Ithaca, New York, purchased 80 percent of its electricity from the local utility. The duel-fueled turbines now fulfill 80 percent of the campus power and steam needs.

With each steam generator producing steam at up to 150,000 pounds per hour, the plant also provides all heating needs to 150 buildings covering 14 million square feet. The turbines run to satisfy thermal load – both in winter, one in summer and one cycled for peaking power using the shoulder months.

The generators can operate independent from the utility grid (island mode) to ensure stable and reliable power and heat supply at any time. They also can operate in parallel with the grid, allowing the export of 5 to 6MW of power to the grid in the winter.

 Project Facts

30 MWe – Dual Fuel Gas Combined Heat and Power Plant

Cornell University

Owner: Cornell University

Project Engineering: GIE Niagra Engineering, Inc. PC

Construction Management: LeChase Construction Services

Product: Two (2) Titan 130 Dual-fuel Gas Turbine Generator Sets With Heat Recovery Steam Generators

Customer Value: Reliable, Efficiency, Environmentally Friendly Power

The project is helping Cornell reach its long-term goal of carbon neutrality. By early 2011, the university discontinued use of all coal as a fuel source. The conversion to the turbines reduced CO2 emissions by 30 percent below the 1990 levels, even as campus square footage increased by 15 percent.

The dual-fuel units can transition between natural gas and ultra low-sulfur distillate while in operation. A CO catalytic system and selective catalytic reduction (SCR) system on each package minimize emissions.

Timothy Peer, project manager with the university, called the Titan units “the best match for us. We provide all the thermal requirements for 14 million square feet, which is primarily high-end research space, so reliability is a major priority.”

Solar’s customer service provides a comprehensive service agreement for the turbomachinery to ensure high reliability, availability and optimum performance. The extended service agreement uses InSight System to determine required maintenance activities based on equipment condition. The agreement also provides all package replacement parts, emergency call-out support, generator services and gas turbine overhaul. The extended service agreement coverage results in more uptime, greater productivity and optimized life cycle.

Plant Data:

  • Two 15 MWe Titan 130 Gas Turbine Generator Sets
  • Two Heat Recovery Steam Generators
  • NOx and CO Reduction Catalysts
  • Fuel: Natural Gas and Diesel Fuel
  • Steam: Up to 150,000 Pounds Per Hour Per Unit
About the Author

Elisa Wood | Editor-in-Chief

Elisa Wood is an award-winning writer and editor who specializes in the energy industry. She is chief editor and co-founder of Microgrid Knowledge and serves as co-host of the publication’s popular conference series. She also co-founded, where she continues to lead a team of energy writers who produce content for energy companies and advocacy organizations.

She has been writing about energy for more than two decades and is published widely. Her work can be found in prominent energy business journals as well as mainstream publications. She has been quoted by NPR, the Wall Street Journal and other notable media outlets.

“For an especially readable voice in the industry, the most consistent interpreter across these years has been the energy journalist Elisa Wood, whose Microgrid Knowledge (and conference) has aggregated more stories better than any other feed of its time,” wrote Malcolm McCullough, in the book, Downtime on the Microgrid, published by MIT Press in 2020.

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