Combined Heat and Power Systems were once reserved for use in commercial and industrial settings. However, in recent years and with the advancement of technology, residential homes and smaller properties are reaping the benefits just as significantly. The cost of living is increasing every single day and it’s not just corporate settings that are looking to make savings. The right energy system will help you to better manage running costs while maintaining consistent heat and power and creating an environment you want to spend time in.

In this guide, we’ll discuss the considerations you should make when working with a designer to create a small-scale CHP system for your needs.

What is CHP?

We have a whole web page dedicated to explaining exactly what CHP is over on our website. Also known as combined heat and power, these modular engines create both electricity and heat in one process at the point of use. They do this through the use of various fuels, including natural gas, biomass and oil. During the electric generation process, the previously wasted heat is captured and used to heat water. This water is pushed through the property, to radiators, sinks or through to the underfloor heating, eliminating the need for additional thermal generation.

CHP technology was originally developed in 1882 with the invention of the Thomas Edison Pearl Street Station. Here both electricity and steam were created in one. And, since then, it has developed with moving technology to become a highly accessible and reliable option. Research has shown that CHP systems can improve efficiency by as much as 30% which generates 50% more heat energy and saves your business money overall. Then designing a small building, replacing a boiler or refurbishing an existing plant is a viable alternative that should be considered in full. We highly recommend working with an experienced CHP specialist, such as the team here at Energimizer, to make sure you find the right system that works with your needs.

Determining Suitability On-site

CHP systems are best suited to sites with high energy usage. To optimise on efficiency, they need to be running constantly and being used to general ample levels of electricity and heat at the same time. Before designing the right solution, you need to:

  • Collect data about the desired installation site.
  • Carry out a site survey to identify the feasibility.
  • Review the site to determine costs and requirements.

Collecting Data from the Site

Getting the most out of your small CHP system requires it to be designed and manufactured according to your needs. To do this, it needs to be correctly sized and the relevant calculations carried out accurately. Much of the information needed to make these calculations can be sourced from utility bills – namely understanding consumption and tariffs.

On-site Survey

It is important that we gain a clear understanding of your site before advising whether it is possible to have a CHP system. This will depend on a number of factors, including spark spread. This is the difference between the tariff from mains electricity and that from your chosen fuel, and it will determine whether a combined heat and power system will bring your site savings.

During our on-site surveys, we also take into account information such as operating hours and any downtime periods you expect over the coming months. This allows us to accurately suggest the right system and one best likely to return on your investment.

Review of Site

If a CHP system is deemed suitable for your site, it is then important to proceed with a review of the area. This focuses on the practical factors that will dictate where and how the unit can be installed. For example, a site review takes into account factors such as:

  • Regulations from your local authority.
  • Availability of gases.
  • The desired location of the CHP plant.
  • Any planning restrictions or considerations.
  • Restrictions on access.

The information above is not extensive. A site review will take into account all the factors that determine how easy it will be to install and maintain the CHP system.

Choosing the Right CHP System

Once it is determined that a cogeneration system is the best option, you need to select the right CHP system for your site. This will be a culmination of choosing the right solution, size and using it efficiently.

Types of CHP

When choosing a CHP system, there are 4 main types used in both residential and corporate settings. These include:

  • Reciprocating engine CHP systems.
  • MicroCHP turbine systems.
  • Fuel cell CHP systems.
  • Gas turbine CHP systems.

Many of these 4 units can be manufactured in varying sizes to suit your energy needs. Reciprocating engine CHP systems, for example, offer 28% electrical efficiency for smaller engines under 100kW and can be switched off without losing efficiency. MicroCHP systems are, as the name suggests, one of the smaller options within this quad. They are designed for residential properties or smaller-scale commercial buildings. On the market today, most units have a maximum power capacity of 20kW – ideal for small properties.

Fuel cell and gas turbine CHP systems are generally used in larger, industrial environments. However, if these are the solutions deemed appropriate for your setting, our specialist engineers can tailor them to suit individual requirements.

CHP Sizing

The other key factor to consider with smaller CHP units is sizing. You need to ensure that the system installed is capable of meeting your demands and ensuring efficiency as it does so. There are several factors that go into sizing a CHP, including determining demand, calculating spark spread and understanding the duration of requirements. To do this, your engineer will consider:

  • The baseline electrical and thermal output needed to keep your business running.
  • A backup system to supplement power from the mains grid.
  • Whether to follow electrical or thermal demand for power output.
  • Whether excess electricity can be exported to the power grid.
  • How long a particular demand exists using a load duration curve to analyse electrical use.

The right sized CHP unit will provide the right amount of electricity and thermal heat to keep your business running smoothly. Here at Energimizer, we specialise in providing the best solutions, no matter of budget or the scale of your property. If you have any questions or would like to speak to one of us, please get in contact with us here today.