FEATURE COMBINED HEAT AND POWER Taking control of energy with CHP

The UK’s electricity and heating sectors are entering a period of profound change as the nation moves towards a low carbon economy. Mike Hefford, Remeha CHP’sgeneral manager, discusses the challenges ahead for energy managers and the energy management benefits offered by CHP and on-site generation

energy costs as the greater the ‘spark spread’ – or difference between gas and electricity costs – the greater the savings from a CHP system. With gas prices currently at around a quarter of the cost of electricity, and electricity prices predicted to rise faster than gas, there are clear economic benefits from using CHP. Let’s consider an R-Gen 20/44 CHP unit

which has a projected life expectancy of 60,000 operating hours. The service intervals are at 6,000 operating hours. That makes a total of 10 services in its lifetime, with financial savings in the region of £75,000 during its operating life. Even after a routine replacement or reconditioning of the generator set (‘genset’) at 30,000 hours, the real world savings are hugely impressive, amounting to approximately £60,000 during the lifetime of the CHP.


ithin its Industrial Strategy, the UK government outlined its goal to

deliver a decarbonised, more productive economy. One of its Grand Challenges is to halve energy use of new buildings by 2030 – and halve the costs of achieving the same efficiency standard in existing buildings. Regardless of age or condition, all UK

building stock needs to operate more sustainably. Improving how we heat our buildings has emerged as the key focus to achieve this. Certainly, as a large user of energy in a building, heat is a natural target for efficiency improvements. Yet decarbonising heat poses a whole set of challenges. Firstly, existing buildings with older heating systems that run at higher temperatures will require very different solutions to efficiently- designed new properties. Secondly, the UK is heavily dependent on the gas network, with 80% of UK buildings still relying on gas for their heating. Thirdly, for energy managers there is the added challenge to ensure energy security and resilience within the building, particularly as we adapt to the low carbon grid. So while full decarbonisation of heat is

the end goal, on a practical level there will need to be a mix of approaches; and in buildings with a high, constant demand for high grade heat and electricity, one technology that could

Figure 1:

On-site generation assumes added importance, with CHP providing greater energy security, helping to balance peaks and troughs in electricity supply

help businesses to improve heating efficiency, lower associated emissions and ensure a secure energy supply, is Combined Heat and Power (CHP). So what is CHP? CHP is effectively a

micro power station, but more than twice as efficient. Remeha’s CHP low NOx condensing technology, for example, generates electricity on-site at gas prices to supplement or replace the grid supply. It then re-uses the ‘waste’ heat to provide heating or hot water, instead of rejecting it to atmosphere like traditional power stations. In this way, CHP systems can typically reduce primary energy usage by up to 30% compared with traditional heating plant and electricity supplied solely from the grid. As CHP electricity is less carbon intensive than that generated by the grid, it can reduce emissions by up to 20%. With condensing CHP units, these figures can rise to a 40% reduction in primary energy usage and a 60% drop in emissions. As such, CHP provides businesses with a strategic solution to long-term financial and carbon savings. The inherent efficiency losses of

centralised generation and distribution mean that CHP and local generation can offer real tangible benefits. On the one hand, lower-carbon CHP electricity can displace carbon-intensive grid electricity in buildings. On the other, it can mitigate


KEEPING THE LIGHTS ON A further benefit of CHP is the enhanced energy security that it provides. Across the country, old polluting coal and nuclear power plant generators are closing fast, with more set to shut in the 2020s. At the same time, renewable energy sources are soaring, expected to grow to 75% by 2030, up from 28% in Q2 2018. As a result, the electricity grid is undergoing its biggest change in recent years. It must adapt to the changing energy mix while preparing for the additional demand for electricity and higher peak loads imposed by electric vehicles and the electrification of heat. On-site generation therefore assumes

added importance, with CHP providing a means of bridging any energy outage by ensuring a secure energy supply.

IMPROVED ENERGY RESILIENCE In a volatile energy market, CHP’s ability to generate site electricity requirements also provides energy managers with the opportunity to ensure greater energy resilience in their buildings. This enables energy managers to offset fluctuations of wholesale energy prices, providing greater control and resilience when it comes to energy costs.

Remeha T: 0118 978 3434


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