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Combined Heat and Power

Combined Heat and Power

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Combined heat and power (CHP) is a technology which can provide a building with both heating and electricity, generated in a single process, with a typical ratio of about 2:1. Domestic installations are usually powered by mains gas or LPG, although larger commercial units can run on a variety of fuels.

Unlike conventional electrical generation – where coal and gas-fired power stations have to vent huge amounts of unused heat into the atmosphere – CHP captures a much higher proportion of the heat produced, which ensures much greater efficiency. In addition, the relative efficiency of the process is higher as the electricity is generated on-site, which means that losses incurred through the transmission and distribution network can be avoided.

As with other various other renewable electricity-generation technologies, micro-CHP is currently eligible for Feed-in Tariff payments. However, in December 2018 the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) announced the Feed-In Tariffs scheme (FITs) will close to new applications after 31st March 2019.

Firstly, we’ll look at the benefits of CHP:

  • Produces electricity for use within the building
  • Can produce significant reductions in running costs and carbon dioxide emissions if sized correctly

There is however one limitation that should be taken into account:

  • CHP units operate most efficiently when running for long periods, generally for more than 18 hours a day. Large hot water demand, and large enough thermal stores to store the generated hot water, are required

In addition, there are some other considerations that should be borne in mind:

  • The Feed-In Tariffs scheme closes at the end of March 2019, and therefore this needs to be considered when reviewing running costs and payback periods
  • An incorrectly sized CHP unit will cost more money to operate, and emit more carbon dioxide, than conventional solutions
  • There is a significant step in capital cost once CHP units with a larger thermal output than 17 kW are considered, so correct sizing is essential
  • Micro CHP boilers are not suitable for small well-insulated dwellings, as there isn’t sufficient heat demand to operate efficiently

If you’d like to find out more about combined heat and power units, and their suitability for a particular project, please contact us.