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Editor's Blog and Industry Comments

CHP shakes off Cinderella syndrome

13 August, 2013
The latest UK energy statistics show that combined heat and power (CHP), which is sometimes overlooked as the Cinderella of UK energy generation, is rightfully taking its place at the energy generation 'ball'.

The Digest of UK Energy Statistics (DUKES) released by the Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC) reveal that between 2011 and 2012 CHP capacity grew by almost 3% to 6.1GW, meeting 6.4% of the UK’s total electricity needs. The proportion of renewable CHP increased almost 20% in 12 months, now accounting for over 8% of total fuel used in the CHP sector.

CHP efficiency benefits led to over 15 million tonnes of CO2 savings, equivalent to removing 5 million cars from the road and representing an increase of 2 million tonnes over the previous year.

"It's good to see increasing CHP capacity, said Ian Hopkins, Sales Director for ENER-G Combined Power. "Combined heat and power is around twice as efficient as conventional power generation and delivers the cost and carbon savings industry is desperately seeking. It also provides off-grid resilience in the event of power failure, yet is sometimes overlooked in favour of more glamorous technology newcomers.

"The UK needs a balanced mix of energy generation, but the enormous benefits of cogeneration are still under exploited. Every day, businesses bemoan spiralling energy costs and carbon taxes and CHP can provide the simple and affordable answer to these problems.”

CHP provides the simultaneous generation of electricity and useful heat and is typically 85% efficient for on-site energy consumption. It achieves cost savings of up to 40% over electricity sourced from the grid and heat generated by on-site boilers. Systems powered by natural gas or other fossil fuels will reduce carbon emissions by approximately 20%, while the carbon reduction benefits are even better for those systems primed by renewable fuels.

Cogeneration can be implemented in new building, when redeveloping an existing site or when replacing ageing boiler plant. It is particularly suitable for customers with sufficient heat or cooling demand, particularly if that demand is for extended periods.

There are many legislative advantages to installing cogeneration, which helps with Part L compliance and can mitigate carbon taxation under the CRC Energy Efficiency Scheme and Climate Change Levy. It is also eligible for Enhanced Capital Allowances.

Typical payback on CHP is between three and five years, with most systems having a product lifecycle of 10-15 years. Additionally, some suppliers offer energy performance contracts, such as ENER-G's Discount Energy Purchase Scheme, which means businesses can benefit from an instant payback with no capital outlay. As such, clients benefit from an immediate reduction in their energy costs and carbon footprint. The CHP system is then paid for via a metered energy charge that is guaranteed to be lower than previous electricity purchase costs. The plentiful supply of heating/cooling is supplied free.

Commenting on the energy statistics, Dr Tim Rotheray, Director of the Combined Heat and Power Association (CHPA) said: “It is astonishing that in the UK, power stations waste more energy from their cooling towers than the total demand for gas for heating in the UK. Each new CHP site represents less energy waste, better UK competitiveness and reduced demand for imported fuels. With a Government commitment to a new gas CHP policy, the CHP sector is poised for even more substantial growth, making the UK energy system less wasteful and more cost effective."

ENER-G is a leading European provider of packaged cogeneration and trigeneration systems. The UK company designs, manufactures, finances, operates and maintains CHP units across Europe. Its systems range in size from 4kWe to 10MWe.

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