Will Vicinity continue to operate its combined heat and power (CHP) units once electric boilers are installed?

Vicinity owns and operates several large cogeneration turbines. By installing electric boilers, Vicinity will gradually transition away from its cogeneration turbine and become an importer of electricity to run the electric boilers. Vicinity will purchase wholesale renewable power, resulting in the generation and distribution of eSteam™, a carbon-free renewable thermal energy product, to customers.  

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What is an industrial-scale heat pump?

Vicinity’s industrial-scale heat pump will extract heat from adjacent water sources, like the Charles and Schuylkill Rivers. The heat pump will harvest energy from these water sources and use it to generate steam and improve the system’s overall efficiency. The technology functions similarly to an air conditioning system but accomplishes the reverse. Vicinity’s heat pump technology will return the water cooler, not impacting the river or the surrounding environment. Vicinity’s heat pump complex could be the largest in the nation.

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What is thermal storage, and why is it important?

As part of Vicinity’s electrification plan, we plan to install thermal storage, which is an excellent means of storing heat. This technology will allow us to procure renewable electrons when prices are low (typically overnight), produce the thermal energy, and store it so that it’s available when our customers need it.

What are the benefits of electrifying district energy?

The benefits of electrification are numerous. 

  • No expensive retrofits – We eliminate the challenge of converting individual buildings. This solution is faster, more cost-competitive, and less capital intensive than building retrofits under mandates.
  • Existing infrastructure – We will use our network of underground pipes to deliver clean, carbon-free steam to customers. Further, many of our facilities have existing electric substations and transmission lines, so no additional investment is needed to access renewable electrons.
  • Cleaner air – We eliminate new gas “stacks” and fossil-burning infrastructure in individual buildings. Communities benefit from cleaner energy sources, which improve city air quality and remove particulates and other pollutants from our neighborhoods.
  • More affordable – Because Vicinity has access to wholesale renewable power, we can procure electricity at much lower rates than the average consumer. Further, Vicinity intends to purchase a lot of its power overnight when prices are lower and store it when our customers need it.
  • Reliability – Our ability to fuel switch allows us to be more reliable than other onsite alternatives. Vicinity’s system has built-in redundancies and will continue to access backup fuels as needed in emergencies.

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