Combined heat and power systems have long been hailed as the answer to skyrocketing energy prices and power fluctuations.

As technology advances and they embrace the emergency of sustainable energy sources, these systems are becoming even more important. The flexible CHP concept is one way that those in the HVAC industry are looking to the future – to a time where fossil fuels may become less dominant and the wider population utilise other forms of fuel.

Challenges Of Sustainable Fuel

Our global focus on reducing emissions and carbon footprint is driving the move towards sustainable fuels.

The EU, for example, has set the target of becoming a decarbonised society by 2050 to reduce greenhouse emissions by 50-55% by 2030. This has meant looking for viable ways to utilise fuels such as wind and solar. In 2020, wind power was the second-largest renewable energy source worldwide – only trailing behind hydropower. It accounted for more than 6% of global electricity. Alongside this, the UK’s total solar capacity is 13,284.3 Mega Watts (MW) – enough to brew over 11 million cups of tea.

And, by 2025, it is estimated that both wind and solar power will make up 50% of our energy too. This is great news for the reduction of greenhouse emissions and the move to a more sustainable state.

However, our increased reliance on these fluctuating energy sources has led to several new challenges. Neither wind nor solar energy is a stable source – they rise and fall in line with natural occurrences.

Sun exposure on a property may be higher from one month to another. Wind direction can change at the drop of a hat.

When we rely more heavily on them, we run the risk of experiencing frequent fluctuations in power levels. This could cause the frequency and voltage to be unreliable, overloading of transmission lines or a mismatch in demand vs supply.

The flexible CHP concept is designed to be a solution to this.

What is Flexible CHP?

In normal situations, a CHP system is sized to meet the needs of the facility in question.

They produce just the right amount of electricity and heat required to keep the establishment running comfortably. This is the most cost-effective way, especially for small to medium-sized businesses, to utilise this sustainable solution.

The Flexible CHP concept raises the question – could these smaller businesses help to support the grid, when needed? It suggests that to control fluctuations, the grid required access to electrical generation on a sporadic basis.

These need to be cost-effective but also reliable enough to support the reliability of the rest of the grid. Flexibly designed CHP systems would be designed with this additional generating capacity that could be tapped into in the event of significant dips in energy.

The idea is that, if set up correctly, it would provide flexibility, good load following and better part-load efficiency all in one. Small to medium-sized businesses, within the industrial sector, and producing significant electrical and thermal requirements per day would be best suited for this.

There is also a suggestion that additional power could be sold back to the grid and the ROI from these grid services could provide key benefits throughout the sector. While flexible CHP is still a concept, it is one that has been deemed appropriate for future energy requirements.

At Energimizer, we have a highly experienced team to help you find the best renewable solution for your business. Get in contact to learn more.