Last week, the brand new TWA Hotel opened at New York’s John F Kennedy airport inside of the historic 1960’s TWA Terminal building. Closed in 2001, the building sat vacant for 16 years until a plan was hatched to restore the landmark by renovating it into a 512-room hotel and 50,000 square foot event space that pays homage to the original TWA Terminal design and feel. The development project features an advanced CHP Microgrid system inclusive of a 1 MW Cogeneration Plant coupled with a 1 MWh battery storage system. What makes this system particularly unique is that it is completely isolated from the local electrical utility during all modes of operation.
The plant utilizes an energy storage system (a battery) to facilitate electrical operation without any connection to a main energy grid. First, the battery is used as a “grid former”, varying it’s rate of discharge (or charge) to maintain voltage and frequency of the hotel and conference center’s electrical grid. This allows the natural gas reciprocating engines to run at a fixed base load speed, reducing wear and tear and extending the life of the engines. Additionally, the battery is sized to be able to maintain service to the hotel should there be a temporary interruption (planned or unplanned) to the operation of the reciprocating engine generators. Operating in a similar fashion as the uninterruptable power supply connected to your desktop computer. The plant is unmanned and relies on the Plant Control System (PCS) PLC to make critical decisions for the electrical system while also handling the mechanical systems needed for fuel gas delivery, engine cooling, building heating/cooling, waste heat recovery, and more.
Back in August of 2017, Thermo Systems was contracted to furnish and install the industrial-grade SCADA and PLC control system for the Cogeneration Plant for the TWA Hotel project. This is a milestone endeavor for Thermo for a number of reasons: it’s our first cogeneration project within a hotel, it involves battery storage along with reciprocating engines, it includes an energy management system solution as part of the plant control system, and it’s 100% separate from the main power grid.
A hybrid CHP (combined heat & power)/microgrid approach that included an energy management system was chosen for the TWA site because its flexible, resilient technology would maximize the system’s uptime, ensuring the building’s power goes uninterrupted. In addition, it’s a highly efficient, economical, and sustainable source of power.
The plant control system provided by Thermo Systems has allowed the hotel, conference center, and flight center to rely completely on the cogeneration plant for its energy since March of this year. The new TWA building opened on May 15th to much excitement and acclaim. To learn more about the TWA Hotel project and to view photos of the renovation:
All photos taken by Thermo Systems TWA account executive, Serge Zinger: