Also known as cogeneration, combined heat and power (CHP) has been around for many decades.
In recent years, and in line with energy prices skyrocketing, it is becoming more widely recognised. Businesses are seeking ways to stabilise their energy usage, move to more sustainable sources and reduce the costs predicted in the coming months.
Because CHP has been in use for many years, it has also had time to generate a number of false claims or ‘myths’ that put certain potential clients off. In this guide, we’ll go through 3 of them to give you the truth.
What is CHP?
CHP is a technology that generates both electricity and heat at the same time.
Using the chosen fuel, it draws out energy at a chemical level and uses this to propel the generators that create electricity. The residual heat released from the process is captured in a heat recovery device and converted into thermal energy – normally in either steam or hot water.
This can then be used to heat a property, whether that’s a residential home or commercial office block.
How Can It Benefit Your Business?
For businesses with high energy output, CHP systems provide a more stable, independent and sustainable alternative. They are:
- Highly Efficient – Each CHP system is sized appropriately for the needs of the organisation. This means that it is set up to produce the right amount of electricity and heat for your means – reducing waste. Most systems can maintain 60-90% efficiency at all times.
- Cost-effective – By recovering previously wasted thermal technology, you require less fuel to produce the required energy output. If you combine this with a natural gas fuel which is cheaper than purchased electricity, businesses see a decrease in energy bills.
- Security – Functioning as microgrids, CHP systems sit autonomously from the main electricity grid. In the event of a power outage or severe fluctuation, your system is safe.
- Avoid Rate Increases – CHP systems require less electricity from the grid. They can also be configured to run on various fuel types. This reduces your susceptibility to electrical rate increases.
- Reduce Emissions – Less fuel is needed to produce your required energy output. And, because waste is repurposed, they reduce greenhouse emissions.
- Suitable for Critical Applications – The independence of their design allows critical services (such as military or healthcare) to provide vital services, regardless of mains electrical supply.
These benefits, amongst others, explain why there are over 2,600 CHP systems recorded in the UK by 2020. With many more in the research process, it is important to understand the truths and step away from the myths.
And, three common ones include:
- CHP is old fashioned technology.
- CHP isn’t suitable for improving sustainability.
- CHP isn’t worth the initial investment.
CHP is Old-fashioned Technology
It’s true that combined heat and power technology isn’t overly new.
In fact, the very first mention of it was back in 1892 with Thomas Edison and his design of the Pearl Street Station. Since then, it has developed and moved on to become what it is today.
Many cite the long lifespan as an indication that it will become obsolete. However, the opposite is true.
It is a proven method – one that has been used by thousands of businesses and organisations over the years. Reports show that it has the potential to improve efficiency by as much as 89% and allow for cost savings of 40%.
CHP also sits well within the interim of current technology and the emergency of renewable fuel sources. While we work out how to balance the energy drawn from wind or solar power, these systems step in to help stabilise the grid.
Along with the rise in demands and the suggestion of smart grids, there are suggestions that the technology will continue to develop. Blockchain, decentralised smart grids and virtual power points are all potentials for future use.
CHP isn’t Suitable for Improving Sustainability
The emergence of CHP as a more widely used technology has thrown up doubt about its suitability for improving sustainability.
However, one of the main benefits of using this technology is that it can significantly reduce emissions. The UK Government reports this to be as high as 30% in comparison to more conventional means.
They are also highly efficient. Each system is configured and designed specifically to meet the demands of the site.
For example, the heat generated is equally matched to the heat demand. Modern CHP systems can also be fuelled by renewable alternatives, such as biogas.
Compared to fossil fuels, the production of biogas saves up to 240% of GHG emissions. Equally, because biogas comes from the breakdown of organic waste, it sits very high on the sustainability scale.
The availability of renewable fuel sources is also used to balance out supply and demand – improving energy sustainability too.
CHP isn’t Worth the Initial Investment
There is little doubt that choosing to upgrade to a CHP system is a significant investment for many businesses.
Depending on the site’s requirements and demands, prices can fluctuate from £1500 for a reciprocating engine up to £10,000+ for a fuel cell. Many view this as too high an investment to deliver results in a practical time frame.
However, research has shown that a well-configured and designed CHP system can provide a return on investment within 2-3 years. If you consider that the average total lifespan is as much as 15 years, there are real benefits to consider.
Due to the benefits highlighted for our environment, there are several grants and incentives available to make these systems more accessible. In the UK, CHP systems are certified as ‘Good Quality CHP’ and will make you exempt from the Climate Change Levy. There are also Enhance Capital Allowances that allow businesses to write off 100% of their investment to CHP technologies against taxable profiles in the year that the investment is made.
Combined heat and power systems continue to be an incredibly popular choice to many organisations. Here at Energimizer, our experienced team is on hand to support you in finding the right renewable, low-carbon and sustainable energy-saving system. For more information or to discuss your needs with us, please get in contact here today.