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Assessment of the greenhouse gas emissions from cogeneration


and trigeneration systems. Part I: Models and indicators
Gianfranco Chicco, Pierluigi Mancarella
Dipartimento di Ingegneria Elettrica, Politecnico di Torino, Corso Duca degli Abruzzi 24, I-10129, Torino, Italy

Abstract
The diffusion of cogeneration and trigeneration plants as local generation sources could bring signicant energy saving and emission
reduction of various types of pollutants with respect to the separate production of electricity, heat and cooling power. The advantages in
terms of primary energy saving are well established. However, the potential of combined heat and power (CHP) and combined cooling
heat and power (CCHP) systems for reducing the emission of hazardous greenhouse gases (GHG) needs to be further investigated. This
paper presents and discusses a novel approach, based upon an original indicator called trigeneration CO2 emission reduction (TCO2ER),
to assess the emission reduction of CO2 and other GHGs from CHP and CCHP systems with respect to the separate production. The
indicator is dened in function of the performance characteristics of the CHP and CCHP systems, represented with black-box models,
and of the GHG emission characteristics from conventional sources. The effectiveness of the proposed approach is shown in the
companion paper (Part II: Analysis techniques and application cases) with application to various cogeneration and trigeneration
solutions.

Keywords: Cogeneration; Emission reduction; Energy saving; Greenhouse gases; Trigeneration

1. Introduction
Cogeneration or combined heat and power (CHP)
systems are well known for potentially providing considerable primary energy saving with respect to the separate
production (SP) of the same amount of heat (from
conventional combustion heat generators) and electricity
(from conventional power plants) [1,2]. In recent years,
there has been an increasing diffusion of various smallscale technologies (with electrical rated power below
1 MWe) for distributed generation (DG) [3], such as
microturbines (MTs) and internal combustion engines
(ICEs). This has allowed for implementing a wider range
of cogeneration applications with rated power smaller than
the ones of traditional industrial users and district heating
systems [4,5].
Trigeneration or combined cooling heat and power
(CCHP) systems [69] are based upon CHP systems
Corresponding author. Tel.: +39 011 090 7141; fax: +39 011 090 7199.

E-mail address: gianfranco.chicco@polito.it (G. Chicco).

coupled to absorption chillers red with heat produced in


cogeneration. Hence, the heat that in several applications
would be wasted in the summertime because of lack of
thermal request can be effectively exploited to produce
cooling power, typically for air conditioning purposes. This
allows for better and longer utilization of the prime mover
with subsequent energy and economic benets with respect
to the CHP-only system [3,6,7]. There are several potential
small-scale users whose needs are suitable for trigeneration
systems, such as universities, hospitals, shopping malls,
hotels, restaurants, and so forth [68,9].
Cogeneration and trigeneration systems, as a consequence of their enhanced energy performance, can also
bring important benets in terms of greenhouse gas (GHG)
emission reduction with respect to the SP. This can occur
particularly in those countries where electricity generation
is mainly based upon non-renewable sources [10]. However, few papers are available on the topic [10,11], in spite
of the increasing importance of coping with the global
warming issue. Thus, further investigations and detailed
general analysis models are needed.

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Nomenclature

Symbols

CC
CCHP
CHP
CO2ECR
CO2EEE
COP
DG
EUF
EU15
FC
GHG
GT
GWP
ICE
LHV
MT
PES
SP
TCO2ER
TEWI
TPES

m
p
F
Q
R
W
X
e
Z
m

combined cycle
combined cooling heat and power
combined heat and power
CO2 emission characteristic ratio
CO2 emission equivalent efciency
coefcient of performance
distributed generation
energy utilization factor
european union (15 countries)
fuel cell
greenhouse gas
gas turbine
global warming potential
internal combustion engine
lower heating value
microturbine
primary energy saving
separate production
trigeneration CO2 emission reduction
total equivalent warming impact
trigeneration primary energy saving

In this work, a novel and general framework for


assessing the GHG emission reduction from cogeneration
and trigeneration systems is presented. The proposed
approach resorts to an original set of indicators, formulated in analogy to the evaluation of the primary energy
saving in trigeneration [12,13]. The trigeneration CO2
emission reduction (TCO2ER) indicator is introduced to
assess the CO2 emission reduction from trigeneration (and
cogeneration as a sub-case) with respect to conventional SP
of electricity, heat and cooling power. The focus is set on
CO2 emissions, but extensions based on the global
warming potential (GWP) [4,10,14] for linking other
GHGs to the equivalent CO2 emissions are also discussed.
Performance characteristics of every component are
described through relevant inputoutput efciency indicators (black-box models [12]). GHG emission characterization is also carried out in terms of black-boxes by resorting
to the emission factor approach [5,1517]. In particular,
different emission factors are considered for all the relevant
entries in the most general denition of the TCO2ER
indicator, thus generalizing the approach presented in [10].
In addition, the analyses can include different kinds of fuel
input (such as gas, diesel, bio-mass, and so forth) to
different systems (prime movers, boilers, boilers for SP,
and so forth).
The presentation of the work is organized in two parts.
The present paper represents Part I and contains the
modelling aspects relevant to the formulation of the
TCO2ER indicator. In Part II [18] the authors lay down
specic analysis techniques, apply the proposed models to
various application cases, and discuss the numerical results.

mass (g)
pollutant
fuel thermal content (kWht)
heat (kWht)
cooling (refrigeration) (kWhc)
electricity (kWhe)
generic energy vector (kWh)
correction factor
efciency
emission factor (g/kWh)

Subscripts
c
e
eq
t
y
z

cooling
electricity
CO2-equivalent
thermal
cogeneration
trigeneration

This paper is structured as follows. Section 2 introduces


the general plant structures and black-box efciency
indicators for trigeneration systems and cogeneration
systems as a sub-case. Section 3 summarizes the emission
factor approach, recalls the trigeneration primary energy
saving (TPES) indicator [12,13] for the energy evaluation
of trigeneration system, and introduces and discusses the
TCO2ER indicator. Section 4 contains the nal remarks.
2. Trigeneration plant schemes, components, and
performance characteristics
2.1. General structure and components of a trigeneration
plant
A trigeneration plant in its most general structure can be
seen as the combination of a cogeneration side and a cooling
side [12,19] (Fig. 1). Focusing on small-scale applications,
the plant can be composed of the following main blocks:




A CHP group, typically based upon DG equipment such


as ICEs, MTs or fuel cells (FCs) [35,15];
A combustion heat generator group, typically composed
of industrial boilers [4,14], for back-up and thermal
peak-shaving operation. In case, also a heat storage
system [4,14], operating as a thermal buffer, can be
available for a more protable operation of the energy
system. The CHP group, the heat generators, and the
heat storage system form the cogeneration side.
The cooling side for small-scale and air-conditioning
applications is typically composed of single-effect or

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Q

district heating

district cooling

F
gas
distribution
system

cooling
side

W
cogeneration
side

user

Q
electrical
grid

W
W
Fig. 1. General trigeneration plant layout and energy ows.

double-effect H2O-LiBr absorption chillers [4,8,14,20].


Also the triple-effect technology [4,20] is expected to be
soon available for wider applications. Mostly, absorption single-effect chillers are fed by hot water, while
double-effect ones are fed by superheated water or
steam. Triple-effect chillers would require a highertemperature heat source, and could be in case directred by the exhaust gases from a CHP unit. It is also
commonplace to combine absorption and electric
chillers together, for instance the former for base-load
and the latter for peak-shaving applications [11,21].
From a generalized standpoint [12,19,22,23], further
cooling generation alternatives could be envisaged, such
as engine-driven chillers directly fed by gas [4,8,22].
Finally, a cooling storage system could be implemented
to increase the exibility of the system operation from
an energy and economic point of view [4,24].
When the plant is not built for stand-alone purposes, it is
usually connected to the electric grid, in order to satisfy the
energy needs in any condition (including the stops for outages
and maintenance); this also gives wider opportunities to
protably run the plant [19,23]. The fuel input, typically gas,
can be drawn from a gas distribution system. In the most
general cases, interconnection with a district heating network
or a district-cooling network can occur as well [4,12] (Fig. 1).
About the energy ows in Fig. 1, W is electricity, Q is
heat, R is cooling output (typically in the form of chilled
water, for air conditioning purposes), and F is fuel thermal
content, for instance based on the fuel lower heating value
(LHV). The heat Q could also be supplied at different
thermal levels (for instance, hot water for space heating,
and steam to re an absorption chiller). Likewise, the
thermal input F could come from sources other than
natural gas indicated in Fig. 1 (for instance, diesel fuel or
hydrogen not produced locally to supply a CHP FC).
2.2. Inputoutput black-box approach to trigeneration
equipment modelling
In order to describe the trigeneration equipment
characteristics, an inputoutput black-box approach [12] is

particularly suitable. Each CCHP component can be


modelled according to its efciency performance indicator
[1,4,5], in general energetically dened as relevant outputto-input energy ratio. Hence, in a combined system with
various cascaded equipment it is possible to track back,
starting from the users needs (nal outputs), the input
energy requested by each machine, onto the plant input.
For instance, an absorption chiller produces cooling power
from a thermal input; this input can be generated by the
CHP unit, in turn fed by gas, which is the original plant
input.
One of the major upsides of this approach is that a
detailed description of the machine and of its internal
characteristics, that is, of the actual content of the blackbox, can be avoided. Of course, this can be done provided
that the performance models are comprehensive of all the
information needed to characterize the system correctly,
including the off-design behaviour.
2.3. Performance indicators for CCHP equipment
The characteristics of the CHP prime movers can be
effectively and synthetically described by means of the
electrical efficiency ZW, the thermal efficiency ZQ, and
the energy utilization factor (EUF) indicator representing
the overall cogeneration efciency [1,5,15]:
ZW

Wy
;
Fy

ZQ

Qy
;
Fy

EUF ZW ZQ ,

(1)

where the subscript y is used to point out cogeneration. The


above efciencies depend upon the technology, the loading
level, the outdoor conditions, the heat recovery system, and
the enthalpy level at which the heat must be provided to the
user. In particular, the thermal efciency may decrease
consistently if heat (for instance hot water at 70 1C) is
required at higher temperature than the nominal one or in
the form of steam [5,25], as apparent from equipment
manufacturers catalogues.
Regarding the cooling equipment, the performance is
usually described by means of the specic coefficient of
performance (COP). The COP can be generally dened as
ratio of the desired cooling energy output R to the relevant

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input (electrical energy Wc for electric chillers, thermal
energy Qc for steam-fed, hot water-fed or exhaust-fed
absorption chillers [4,14,22]):
COP

R
Wc

electric chillers;

COP

R
Qc

steam-fed; water-fed or exhaust-fed


absorption chillers;

(2)

where the subscript c points out that the nal use of the
relevant input is cooling production.
In general, the performance characteristics of the chillers
may depend signicantly upon the outdoor conditions and
the temperature of the ambient to keep cooled, as well as
their loading level [4,14]. In addition, for absorption
chillers the COP could drop consistently if the ring
source does not comply with the specic thermal constraints [4,2628]. Firing temperatures are typically about
8090 1C for single-effect, 120160 1C for double-effect,
and 160200 1C for triple-effect chillers [4,22]. At the same
time, the thermal efciency of small-scale units such as
MTs and ICEs could be quite low for generating hightemperature hot water or steam. Consequently, the overall
performance of a trigeneration system should be thoroughly evaluated, above all for small-scale units.
3. Trigeneration primary energy saving and GHG emission
saving evaluation
3.1. The emission factor approach for CO2 and general
GHG emission evaluation
The assessment of any pollutant emission from a
combustion device can be assessed through an energy
output-based emission factor approach [5,16,17]. According
to this approach, the mass mpX of a given pollutant p
emitted while producing the energy output X can be
worked out as:
X
mX
p mp X ,
X

(4)

where mp is the energy output-based emission factor, that


is, the specific emissions of p per unit of X, in (g/kWh). For
instance, the output X can be electrical energy W (kWhe),
useful thermal energy Q (kWht), or cooling energy R
(kWhc). The emission factor mpX depends upon several
operating and structural variables, such as the specic
equipment, partial load operation, age, state of maintenance, outdoor conditions, pollutant abatement systems,
and so forth [5,16].
If complete combustion is assumed, CO2 emissions can
be worked out according to the characteristics of the
chemical reaction, being a function of the carbon content
in the fuel and of its LHV (i.e., a function of the fuel itself)
[5]. Thus, for a given fuel, the emission factor mFCO2 referred
to the primary energy F released when burning the fuel can
be considered constant at rst approximation. The CO2

emission factor referred to the energy output can be then


evaluated in every operating point through the relevant
energy efciency model (Section 2.3). Besides the energy
efciencies, also mFCO2 can actually change when the CHP
unit operates in generic off-design conditions. In this case,
typically the combustion characteristics worsen, bringing
about incomplete combustion and thus a decrease of CO2
specic emissions [5,16]. However, this behaviour can be
neglected at rst approximation, as done in several studies
[5,10,29]. In particular, considering a constant mFCO2 is
conservative for what concerns the assessment of CO2
emission reduction brought by a combined system with
respect to the SP.
For more detailed analyses, specic experimental measurements in situ for the given equipment should be carried out to
evaluate the actual CO2 emission factor for various operating
conditions. In fact, it would be in general tough to draw
general analytical models, since the results are relevant to the
specic equipment combustion characteristics.
3.2. The TPES indicator for primary energy saving
evaluation in trigeneration
Several performance indicators have been presented in
the literature to evaluate the CHP plant characteristics [1].
In particular, the primary energy saving (PES) indicator is
dened as
PES

F SP  F y
Fy
1
,
SP
SP
W y =Ze Qy =ZSP
F
t

(5)

where Fy represents the fuel thermal input to the


cogeneration plant, while FSP is the fuel thermal input to
the conventional SP of the cogenerated electricity Wy (in an
equivalent power plant with reference electrical efciency
ZeSP) and the cogenerated heat Qy (in an equivalent boiler
with reference thermal efciency ZtSP). The PES indicator
is extensively adopted, also from a regulatory standpoint
[30,31].
Following the approach to classical trigeneration outlined in [32,33], the authors in [12,13] have proposed the
adoption of the TPES indicator as a generalization of the
cogeneration PES to compare the energy saving performance from different CCHP systems. In particular, if an
electric chiller is assumed as reference technology for the
SP of cooling power, the TPES is dened as [13]
TPES

F SP  F z
F SP

1

W z =ZSP
e

Fz

,
SP
Rz = ZSP
e COP

Qz =ZSP
t

where the subscript z points out the trigeneration entries.


Concerning the reference efciency values, gures of
ZeSP 0.4 (about the power system average efciency in
Italy, including line losses) and ZtSP 0.80.9 (average
boiler efciencies) could be adopted for evaluating the
energy system performance [30]. In alternative, the CCHP

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system could be compared to the best available technologies, setting ZeSP 0.550.6 (combined cycles, CCs) and
ZtSP 0.95 (modern high-efciency boilers). Likewise,
average values or cutting-edge values could be chosen for
the reference electric chiller performance. However, the
performance of a chiller strongly depends on the outdoor
temperature and on the condenser typology (water-cooled
or air-cooled, in particular) [4,14]. Therefore, it would be
suitable to consider reference values relevant to the specic
application. In any case, COPSP gures from 3 to 5
represent a typical range of values.
According to the TPES denition (6), cogeneration can
be analysed as a sub-case with Rz 0, thus obtaining the
classical PES (5).
3.3. The TCO2ER indicator for CO2 emission reduction
evaluation in trigeneration
Following the lines that brought to the TPES denition
[13], here the authors introduce the novel TCO2ER
indicator for CO2 emission reduction evaluation in CCHP
(and CHP) systems. The TCO2ER is generally dened as
TCO2 ER

mCO2 SP  mCO2 z
,
mCO2 SP

(7)

where mCO2 z is the CO2 mass emitted while burning the


fuel input to the trigeneration plant, and mCO2 SP is the
CO2 mass emitted while producing the same trigenerated
energy vectors in reference SP technologies.
The TCO2ER can be more specically expressed in terms
of relevant emission factors as
TCO2 ER 1 

mFCO2 z F z
Q
R
mW
CO2 SP W z mCO2 SP Qz mCO2 SP Rz

,
(8)

mW
CO2 SP ,

mQ
CO2 SP

mR
CO2 SP

and
are the energywhere
output related emission factors for the SP of electricity,
heat and cooling, respectively. These emission factors are
conventionally evaluated, also depending upon the purpose
of the study, as illustrated in the numerical applications in
the companion paper [18]. The term mFCO2 z refers to the
specic fuel input to the trigeneration system. Again,
cogeneration can be analysed as a sub-case, corresponding
to Rz 0 in (8).
The expression (8) allows for running general parametric
analyses of different types, considering different emission
factors for the SP and different inputs to the CCHP energy
system. A relevant simplication in the TCO2ER expression
can be carried out considering that the SP of cooling power
typically occurs in electric chillers, as in (6), so yielding
TCO2 ER
1


mW
CO2


SP

mFCO2



W z mQ
CO2

SP

Fz



Qz mW
CO2

1
SP
SP COP

.
Rz
9

The expression (9) contains only two CO2 emission


factors for the SP, namely, for electricity generation and
for heat generation. The emissions from cooling power
generation are now assessed through the electricity-related
emissions and the reference electric chiller efciency.
3.4. Conceptual differences between TPES and TCO2ER
A main conceptual difference between the TPES and the
TCO2ER has to be pointed out. When evaluating the
energy saving though the TPES, the analysis mainly refers
to the rationale of trigeneration as a combined process for
multiple energy vector production. Thus, the selection of
the reference efciencies for the SP is related in primis to
work out the potential of the combined process with
respect to conventional benchmarks. The analysis run
through the expression (6) is performed in terms of primary
energy saving, no matter the actual fuels and/or technologies involved. For instance, the combined plant can be
fuelled with natural gas, the heat SP can be referred to an
actual average mix of boiler technologies and fuels, and the
electricity separate generation can be referred to an actual
average mix of power plant technologies and fuels. In any
case, the TPES analysis nally yields a numerical value of
primary energy saving. What actually matters are only the
efciencies and not the fuel inputs to the various systems.
In this respect, the specic technologies are only addressed
for assessing the relevant efciencies.
Differently, when evaluating the CO2 emission performance through the TCO2ER not only the technologies, but
also the fuel inputs to the different systems are relevant. In
fact, different fuels exhibit different carbon chemical
contents and thus their burning would generate different
CO2 emissions [4,5]. In addition, if the electricity SP
makes reference to the power system in a given context
(e.g., a given country), the actual generation mix can be
based upon various alternatives. In particular, electricity
production from renewable sources such as wind or sun, as
well as from nuclear energy, is virtually characterized by
zero CO2 emissions, if the analysis excludes the contribution from the embedded energy needed for building the
plant [4,34,35]. Thus, the equivalent overall emissions from
power systems can be quite low if a consistent quota of
electricity is generated through renewable or nuclear
solutions.
3.5. Discussion on the rationale and use of the TCO2ER
indicator
On the premises drawn in Section 3.4, the selection of the
entries in (9) must be carried out with even more care than
for the entries in (6), considering the purpose of the
analysis. For instance, in [10] it is assumed that the
fuel input to the combined (co- or tri-generation) system
is the same as for the heat SP. Thus, the GHG emission reduction is a consequence of the primary energy
saving brought by the combined multi-generation process.

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However, from this standpoint also the separate generation
of electricity should be evaluated on the basis of the same
fuel input. In addition, the electrical efciency in general
increases with the capacity and changes with the technology. Thus, a fair comparison should also consider the same
technology in the same size range for electricity-only
generation [36]. For instance, a gas-red cogenerative CC
should be compared to a non-cogenerative gas-red CC
plus a gas-red boiler. In this case, the protability of the
cogeneration process would be evaluated also taking into
account that setting up a cogenerative CC (in which
thermal power is recovered) might bring about a decrease
in electrical efciency [4,5]. In alternative, the comparison
could be run regardless the technology and the size. For
instance, the separate generation of electricity could be
assessed in terms of best available technology (e.g., a gas
MT could be compared with a gas CC). However, this
seems a less suitable approach for actual evaluation of the
performance of small-scale combined plants.
It is possible to point out a theoretical meaningful result
in the hypothesis that the same fuel is adopted for all the
systems involved in the analysis (combined and separate
generation). In this case, in fact, taking into account the
modelling considerations of Section 3.1, the TCO2ER
would assume the same numerical value of the TPES.
Hence, the CO2 emission reduction would depend only
upon the relevant efciencies considered in the analysis.
Such an approach seems the most suitable for evaluating
the contribution to the struggle against global warming of
cogeneration and trigeneration as combined processes able
to generate a manifold output.
However, the expressions (8) and (9) allow for assessing
more general situations. In particular, it is possible to take
into account that the fuel inputs to a co- or tri-generator
can be quite different from the input to the SP boilers. This
approach is more corresponding to the rationale of
comparing the GHG impact from a given CHP or CCHP
system to actual systems available for SP. For instance, the
analysis can be carried out with reference to average
systems for heat production. In this case, considering a mix
of fuels corresponding to the actual distribution of heat
generator typologies, and a relevant weighted average

TCO2 ER 1  h

mW
CO2


SP

alternative ways (in some regions, for instance, the share of


thermally-fed chillers with respect to electrically-fed chillers
can be quite high [4]). Such an approach seems more
suitable for evaluating CHP and CCHP plants in a given
energy framework.
On the basis of the variety of rationales discussed above,
for every given plant and operating condition it is possible
to run alternative studies by considering the entries
Q
SP
mW
as parameters in (9).
CO2 SP , mCO2 SP , and COP
Relevant numerical applications are illustrated in [18].
3.6. Comprehensive model accounting for other GHG
emissions
The models presented in Section 3.3 can be generalized
by considering the emissions of other types of GHG for
both the CCHP system and the SP references. For instance,
when dealing with natural gas-fuelled units for cogeneration and trigeneration, it could be possible to consider also
CH4 emissions, that could be in a range of 90% of the total
un-combusted hydrocarbons emitted [5,16]. Similarly,
every device burning a certain fuel, such as diesel, coal or
oil, generates some types of GHG, in an amount that can
be more or less signicant [4,5]. Thus, a more detailed
model could account for various GHG emission typologies, in particular from the SP of heat and electricity. In
addition, another relevant source of GHG emissions is
represented by the refrigerant used in the chillers (in both
the CCHP and the SP systems), which is more or less
subject to a certain leakage rate [4,10,14].
The GWP for a given GHG is evaluated by assuming
CO2 as the reference basis. The emissions of a generic
GHG are then expressed in terms of equivalent CO2
emissions [4,10,14]. In particular, it is possible to dene the
equivalent CO2 emission factor mX
CO2 eq as
X
mX
CO2 eq GW PGHG mGHG ,

(10)

where GWPGHG is the CO2 mass equivalent emissions per


emitted mass unit of a given GHG, and mGHGX is the
emission factor of the given GHG in order to produce the
energy vector X, as dened in (4).
The TCO2ER model (8) can be therefore generalized as

h


i


mFCO2 mFCO2 eq F z mR
CO2 eq Rz
z

 i
 hz

 z  i


,
Q
Rz
mW

mQ
Rz
W

m
Q z mR
z
CO2 eq
CO2 eq
CO2
CO2 eq
COPSP
SP

emission factor, seems more appropriate. Similarly, electricity could be evaluated on the basis of the actual
technology mix (including various fuels and virtually zeroemission renewable or nuclear sources) in a given region.
Finally, the same holds true for the cooling power
generation, considering that cooling can be produced in

SP

SP

(11)

SP

where in particular:

mFCO2 eq z accounts for different types of GHG other than


CO2 emitted when burning a given fuel (e.g., methane),
so that in general mFCO2 eq z could be expressed as an
average weighted value for different GHG.

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mR
CO2 eq z is related to the GHG emissions corresponding
to refrigerant mass leakage from the absorption chiller
[4,10,14].
Q
mW
CO2 eq SP and mCO2 eq SP refer to the average equivalent
CO2 emissions from SP of electricity and heat, weighted
according to different types of GHG.
mR
CO2 eq SP refers to the equivalent GHG emissions due
to refrigerant mass leakage from the reference electric
chiller; this term can be again assessed as an average
value weighted on different types of electric chillers and
refrigerants it is possible to adopt for separate cooling
production.

Clearly, the expression (11) is much more complicated to


evaluate than (8). However, as far as emissions from fuel
burning are concerned, in general CO2 emissions prove to
be quantitatively much more important than other GHG
emissions [4]. Emissions of other important GHG such as
methane, in any case, are typically comparable for the
combined systems and the SP [4,5,16]. Regarding the
refrigerant leakage, in H2OLiBr absorption chillers
the refrigerant is water, with no virtual GWP. On the
contrary, the GWP of some refrigerants used in electric
chillers for SP can be consistent (halocarbons have GWP in
a range from some hundreds to some thousands [4,14]).
However, the current trend is to render the refrigerant
leakage almost negligible in modern systems (below 1% on
an annual basis [4,10]). Therefore, again the most
signicant impact is represented by CO2 emissions from
generating the electricity needed as input to the electric
chillers [4]. This is also conrmed by recent studies based
on integrated indicators such as the total equivalent
warming impact (TEWI) [14].
According to the above considerations, regarding the
cooling production the results obtained in terms of
TCO2ER for trigeneration systems with H2OLiBr absorption chillers are slightly conservative with respect to the
separate cooling generation based upon electric chillers.
Likewise, as far as fuel burning is concerned, at rst
approximation GHG emissions other than CO2 can be
neglected in the absence of more detailed relevant data.
Thus, the analyses carried out in this paper and in Part II
[18] mainly consider CO2 emissions. However, a complete
GHG emission reduction assessment could be run on the
basis of the model illustrated in this section, provided that
suitable and reliable information for the specic case is
available.

equipment involved in the analysis have been modelled


through black-box models. In particular, the emission
performance characterization has been carried out by
means of energy output-related emission factors. The
approach introduced has been formulated by focusing on
the CO2 emissions as the most relevant GHG. Furthermore, it has been extended to account for other GHG
emissions from CHP and CCHP systems, such as methane
contained in the thermal equipment exhaust gases, or
leakages of GHG substances used as refrigerants in the
chillers.
By adequately setting the input entries to the TCO2ER
indicator, various typologies of analyses can be run. More
specically, the indicator is able to assess the actual
emission reduction under general operating conditions of
the energy system. In particular, the relevant entries can be
calculated accounting for the off-design behaviour of the
various equipment. In addition, by changing the SP
reference values, it is possible to perform different analyses
according to different evaluation rationales. In this light, a
meaningful theoretical result refers to the analogy between
the TCO2ER indicator, evaluated with reference to only
CO2 emissions (neglecting the contribution from other
GHG), and the TPES indicator adopted for trigeneration
energy saving assessment. If the same fuel is assumed to be
the input to the combined energy system and to the SP
means, the two indicators bring the same numerical results;
in this case, according to the model developed, energy
saving and CO2 emission reduction are coincident.
In the companion paper [18], starting from the theoretical framework introduced here, specic analysis techniques and further indicators are presented. In addition, the
effectiveness of the proposed approach and assessment
models is illustrated on various application cases with
relevant cogeneration and trigeneration systems. Parametric analyses, referred to different possible rationales for
assessing the reference SP means, are included to highlight
some key numerical aspects relevant to different CHP and
CCHP technologies.

Acknowledgements
This work has been supported by the Regione Piemonte,
Torino, Italy, under the research grant C65/2004. The
authors thank the anonymous reviewers for their insightful
comments and for the precious advice given to improve this
paper.

4. Final remarks
This paper has presented a novel approach to assess the
GHG emission performance from cogeneration and
trigeneration systems. In this respect, the TCO2ER
indicator has been introduced for assessing the emission
reduction brought by the combined energy systems with
respect to conventional references for the SP of electricity,
heat and cooling power. The characteristics of all the

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