Introduction to Combined Heat and Power
Combined heat and power (CHP) is a way of generating heat and electricity simultaneously. This is achieved through the on-site generation of electricity and the use of the heat that is produced as a by-product.
While not actually a form of renewable energy, CHP is included here because it is a way of generating some of your own electricity, and can result in a significant fall in your carbon footprint. It has been flagged up by some commentators as the best way to lower domestic carbon emissions.
Micro-CHP (domestic-sized) is different from many of its industrial forebears, as they tend primarily to generate electricity, with heat as a useful bi-product. Micro-CHP is being developed to produce heat (replacing a domestic boiler) and generate electricity as a bi-product.
Is micro-CHP suitable for my home?
Micro-CHP is most suited to larger homes with three or more bedrooms, or older houses where it is not currently cost effective to improve insulation (such as those with solid brick walls). This type of home could see carbon emissions reductions of between 5 and 10 per cent.
The micro-CHP systems work best in buildings where they operate for many hours at a time, rather than intermittently. These tend to be ones that need long and consistent heating periods.Find a CHP installer.
How does micro-CHP work?
CHP generates electricity whilst also capturing heat produced as a by-product (rather than wasting this heat as seen in traditional methods of power generation).
Micro-CHP works in a similar way to a standard gas boiler. Both floor standing and a wall-mounted varieties are available. There is also potential for biomass fuelled CHP, but domestic versions are not likely to reach the market in the near future.
Relatively small amounts of electricity are generated – and only when the central heating is on. The aim is to reduce the amount of electricity you draw from the grid (most of which comes from sources high in carbon emissions), not to replace your electricity supply.