Discover how CHP can improve energy efficiency and help to meet low carbon targets.
Britain, as part of its Carbon Plan is in the process of reducing its carbon footprint by 80% by 2050. This commitment by government is part of the UK’s efforts to mitigate the negative impact that past economic development has had on the climate. It’s hoped that by cutting carbon emissions globally, we can combat increases in world temperatures and extreme weather.
There are a number of measures that every business can implement that can help lower their carbon footprint:
1. Implement an energy management programme
An energy management programme can be used to monitor, manage and control the amount of energy used accurately. On average, 20% of the total energy bill in commercial offices is accounted for by office equipment – about half of this use stems from PCs and monitors. All equipment not in use should be switched off or have energy efficiency features installed.
2. Reconsider your lighting and heating
Replacing your lighting with more energy efficient lighting such as LEDs can result in substantial savings in energy costs and carbon footprint. Many business spaces are also overheated; by adjusting the thermostat and the timing of heating controls, businesses can realise significant savings in costs and emissions.
3. Consider CHP technology
Combined Heat and Power (CHP) systems are becoming increasingly popular, not only as a source of reliable, cheap power, but also as a way to reduce carbon emissions. A CHP system produces usable heat and power in one single, highly efficient process. A CHP unit can achieve an efficiency of over 80% as compared with traditional power plants at around 50%. According to DECC reports, carbon emission savings from CHP in 2012 as compared to the fossil fuel basket were 15.73 MtCO2, which equates to 2.56 MtCO2 per 1,000 MWe of installed capacity.
There are around 1, 438 CHP schemes in operation in the UK, and according to the Carbon Trust, the CHP scene is dominated by the industrial sector at 76% of CHP electrical capacity with the rest made up of commercial offices, district heating schemes, hospitals and universities. A whole range of different types of CHP plants are available, that include packaged, custom-built designs of various sizes designed to be fuelled by a range of fuels including biogas and natural gas.
What is CHP?
CHP generates electricity and captures the usable heat that is produced in the process. This differs from conventional electricity generation methods which see vast amounts of heat wasted. Up to two thirds of the overall energy consumed in coal and gas-fired power stations is lost as heat.
Case study: trigeneration CHP plants
Trigeneration not only provides heat and power but also cooling. Take the purpose built flagship, Museum of Liverpool - the site’s CHP plant uses gas (and has the option to use biofuel) to generate power, the surplus heat is used for hot water and air conditioning. As a result, Liverpool Museum's plant is reporting savings of around £500,000 each year in energy costs. It also delivers a minimum of 880 tonnes of savings in CO₂ emissions when compared to supplying power, heat and cooling through conventional separate sources.
Another way of using CHP heat is through the use of heat stores. The use of a heat store removes the need to find demand for both heat and electricity simultaneously which is generated by the CHP. Heat stores are like a battery in that they store energy. However, instead of electricity, heat is stored in insulated tanks. Heat stores provide flexibility for the CHP operator as heat can be provided when it is needed. It has been suggested in a recent Tyndall Research Paper, that there is potential for thermal storage to reduce the overall carbon emissions from district heating systems.
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Topics: CHP / Cogeneration