HAUPPAUGE, N.Y. -- A renovated Waldbaum's store in this Long Island suburb is the first supermarket in the U.S. to use a combined heat and power system (CHP) that will not only generate electricity, but also help dehumidify and heat the 57,000-square-foot store.
The CHP uses a 60-kilowatt, natural gas-fueled power and heat generator called a microturbine, which is about the size of a home refrigerator. Manufactured by Capstone Turbine Corp., Chatsworth, Calif., the rooftop-mounted microturbine supplements the supermarket's electrical power needs. The microturbine's clean exhaust (normally released into the environment) is then used to heat water to provide desiccant dehumidification on humid days and space heating on cold days.
"Like a jet engine fueled by clean-burning, natural gas, the microturbine produces electrical power for our store right onsite, " said Bob Panasuk, president, Waldbaum's, which operates nearly 80 stores on Long Island and in the New York City boroughs of Brooklyn, Queens and Staten Island. A&P, Montvale, N.J., is Waldbaum's parent.
The system provides about 20% of the store's power, reducing Waldbaum's dependency on the region's electrical grid from 100% to 80%. It is expected to lower the store's energy costs, though Panasuk said it's too early to predict the return on investment.
Along with saving money, the CHP will help Waldbaum's keep its perishables fresh longer, and shoppers more comfortable. The system has made it possible for the store to raise its air conditioning temperature to 74 degrees, from 72 degrees, Jim Kirk, director of energy management, A&P, told SN.
"The desiccant technology allows the store to dry out, so we don't have to make the store uncomfortably cold to maintain the proper humidity," Kirk said.
The CHP is a result of a partnership between Waldbaum's and KeySpan, a natural gas distributor; the American Gas Association's National Accounts Energy Alliance; the U.S. Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory; the New York State Energy Research Development Agency; and the Gas Technology Institute.
The system cost $3,000 per kilowatt, or about $180,000. Due to sponsor funding, Waldbaum's financial responsibility was only a few hundred dollars, Kirk said.
The cost could prevent other supermarkets from following Waldbaum's lead, said Dick Jensen, a professor of engineering at Hofstra University, Hempstead, N.Y., who has seen the CHP at Waldbaum's. Jensen noted, though, that retailers could overcome this hurdle if the system was incorporated into new store designs, rather than a retrofit, which is the case at Waldbaum's here.
While microturbines are in use at supermarkets outside of Long Island, Waldbaum's is the first in the nation to use an integrated heat and power system. Integrated systems are, however, in place in other industries.
Waldbaum's has even bigger plans for microturbines. In Centereach, N.Y., another Long Island suburb, it's researching the possibility of installing a system that would generate 100% of the store's electricity onsite, resulting in a potential 35% savings on energy costs.