Energy costs have risen more than a 100% in the past 12-months and businesses are now bracing themselves for further electricity hikes with the introduction of new legislation to cut the amount of CO2 we omit. CHP is almost twice as efficient as conventional power generation and can save companies up to 50% in electricity costs.
What is CHP?
Combined Heat and Power (CHP), also known as cogeneration, is a means of generating heat and electric power at the same time from a single packaged unit. CHP is the cogeneration of heat and electricity, in which the spare heat produced, is turned into hot water. The principle is that a natural gas or biogas-fuelled engine drives a generator that produces electricity. The heat from the engine block, oil cooler and exhaust, which would normally be wasted, is absorbed by coolant water through a specially developed high efficiency heat exchanger. This energy, stored as hot water, is then usable directly for central heating, hot water, or indirectly for air conditioning. As a rule of thumb, the production of 1 kilowatt of power creates 2 kilowatts of usable heat energy.
The power stations feeding the national grid are only about 35% efficient, waste large amounts of heat and pump out up to 850kg of CO2 for every MW/hr of electricity produced. A further 5% of this is lost in transmitting that power around the country, so by the time the power arrives at your door it’s only about 30% efficient. Running a CHP system captures most of the waste heat from its engine and turns it into useful hot water, making it over 85% efficient. It also significantly reduces CO2 emissions.
CHP is an established technology and its ability to provide a reliable and cost effective supply of energy has been proven. Latest versions of the technology mean that even applications with a small energy requirement can now save significant costs by using CHP. The benefits of smaller plants are that they can be built in a much shorter time span. Hospitals, office buildings and apartment blocks often have enough demand for space heating and hot water to be powered by a small CHP plant. CHP’s, like powertherm, offer a clever mix of 70kW electricity, 152 kW hot water, all delivered at 85.5% total package efficiency.
CHP plants are offered in a pre-engineered package design, which reduces up-front engineering, site design and installation costs. The package design encompasses all CHP components within an acoustic enclosure thereby providing very low noise output (68 dB(A) @ 7 M) in plant room environments together with neatness of design and ease of access.
If your annual combined energy costs for electricity and heat are in excess of £50,000 per annum, and you are looking to make a significant reduction in your CO2 footprint, but in a cost effective way, then a natural gas CHP system may be perfect for you.
The cost savings and Return On Investment are impressive. For example, a medium sized hotel can save around £5,000 a month from its electricity bill and a leisure centre open 16 hours a day can recover its investment in CHP units in only 13 months.
CHP equipment like powertherm for instance, reduces your electricity bill, conserves fuel by reducing the demand on your boilers, and also brings protection against power cuts by generating your electricity needs on site
In addition it stabilises the risks associated with rapidly rising electricity prices in your business over a fixed period and minimises the impact of the Climate Change Levy. Good quality CHP schemes, like powertherm can also benefit from taxation advantages by qualifying for the Government’s Enhanced Capital Allowance scheme.
Industrial and commercial consumers reap great benefits from operating natural gas CHP plants. For instance, natural gas may be used to generate electricity needed in a particular industrial or commercial setting. The excess heat produced from this process can be harnessed to fulfil other industrial applications, including space heating, water heating, and powering industrial boilers. Since firms are heavy users of energy, and particularly electricity, providing increased efficiency can save a great deal of money. Businesses are also subject to regulations regarding harmful emissions, and the burning characteristics of natural gas help industry to reduce its emissions.
CHP systems also provide an on site power source capable of keeping critical facilities operating during power outages. When power outages occur resulting in a black out, CHP plants can be ‘islanded’ from the grid and continue to operate normally. Because they rely on natural gas, CHP plants offer an excellent solution to ensure power continuity in critical infrastructures such as hospitals, schools, airports, military bases and government facilities. In addition CHP plants can improve the power quality during brownouts when computers and other sensitive equipment are affected by deviations in power quality.
A prominent role
Energy industry leaders and Government Ministers have agreed that CHP must play a more prominent role in the United Kingdom’s transition to a low-carbon economy and it is an important element in the Government’s new energy policy, as set down in the Energy White Paper. It is an integral part of its ambition to set the UK on the path to achieving a 60% reduction in carbon dioxide emissions by 2050.
Can CHP save you money? It will be fascinating to find out.