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CHP – The ugly duckling of energy management?


CHP – The ugly duckling of energy management?

19278580135_1ce3a66e6a_oAs we begin to see the real effects of climate change through record heat waves, raging fires in Indonesia and melting ice caps in the arctic it is now more important than ever to focus our attention on all tools available to us. Combined Heat and Power (CHP) is one such tool.

CHP is the sequential generation of electricity, heat and sometimes cooling from a common energy source. Thanks to the efficiency of CHP systems the greenhouse gas emissions are reduced. It burns less fuel than conventional technologies to get the same energy output, and therefore reducing the emissions of greenhouse gases. According to the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) a CHP plant can reduce carbon emissions by up to 30%, a considerable amount.

But according to a report by Ricardo-AEA, published by DECC in 2013, the adoption of CHP is well below the forecast for the overall UK capacity. In 2013 the estimated potential for CHP in the UK was 29.3 GW (or 29% of the total projected electricity production), but the actual available capacity of CHP was only 6.1 GW.

In 2030 there will be potential for 33.8 GW of CHP in the UK. Imagine if we would manage to reach that potential. The impact on greenhouse gas emissions would be huge!

But if CHP has such great potential for reducing energy demand and greenhouse gas emissions, why are we only using 20% of the potential?

There are probably many answers to that question. A report by Code2 from 2014 lists a number of barriers to CHP adoption, mainly financial. And another report by DECC from 2015 is trying to address a number of non-financial barriers. In our work we often come across clients that are concerned about the difficulty getting hold of the information they need from the CHP plant. The lack of information give them problems validating the financial benefits, and I believe this is one of the barriers preventing more widespread adoption.

We would love to hear your thoughts on this. What is your experience? Do you think CHP is a fruitful way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions? And why do you think we are not using CHP to its full potential?

– George Bartley

  • 18 Nov, 2015
  • Building Sustainability