Co-generation is defined as the sequential generation of two forms of useful energy from a single primary energy source, typical two forms of energies are mechanical energy and thermal energy. Mechanical energy may be used may be used to either to drive an alternator to produce electricity or rotate an equipment like motor, compressor, pump or fans etc., for delivering different services. Thermal energy may be used directly for the process for heating purpose or indirectly to produce the steam generation, hot water or hot air for dryer and chilled water generation for process cooling.

Generation of three different forms of energy from the single primary energy source is called as Tri-generation, i.e., generation of Electricity, Steam or Hot water and Chilled water from single source of primary fuel.

CHP (Combined Heat and Power) is the sequential or simultaneous generation of multiple forms of useful energy (usually mechanical and thermal) in a single, integrated system. CHP systems consist of a number of individual components-prime mover (heat engine), generator, heat recovery, and electrical interconnection - configured into an integrated whole.

Prime movers for CHP systems include steam turbines, gas turbines (also called combustion turbines), spark ignition engines, diesel engines, micro-turbines, and fuel cells. These prime movers are capable of burning a variety of fuels, including biomass/biogas, natural gas, or coal to produce shaft power or mechanical energy. Additional technologies are also used in configuring a complete CHP system, including boilers, absorption chillers, desiccants, engine-driven chillers, and gasifiers.

Although mechanical energy from the prime mover is most often used to drive a generator to produce electricity, it can also be used to drive rotating equipment such as compressors, pumps, and fans. Thermal energy from the system can be used in direct process applications or indirectly to produce steam, hot water, hot air for drying, or chilled water for process cooling.

G2P (Gas to Power) is the generation of power (only) using the chemical energy of gas, which is burnt within a piston engine producing available mechanical energy at the engine shaft. This mechanical energy is then used to drive a generator to produce electricity.

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