The development of domestic-scale micro-CHP products in the UK has moved a couple of steps forward with announcements from two of the leading players.

Power and gas utility E.ON has signed an agreement with Energetix Group plc to develop and deploy a prototype micro-CHP unit for use in UK homes. The companies intend to collaborate on the development of a fully-integrated micro-CHP unit incorporating Energetix’s Genlec Organic Rankine Cycle unit. The compact and lightweight nature of the unit could lead to it being the world’s first truly wall-mounted micro-CHP product, similar in size to current gas boiler designs.

The highly efficient units would be able to power a wide range of UK homes and could reduce annual user energy bills by around £150, says E.ON.

Under the agreement, E.ON will fund the testing and evaluation of a Genlec micro-CHP system at the Energetix facility in Capenhurst Technology Park, Cheshire, UK, which will be verified by independent expert EA Technology. The evaluation, which is scheduled for completion in the first half of 2008, will outline the energy savings achieved during testing of the system, assess its commercial value and appraise its economic potential.

Adrian Hutchings, CEO of Energetix Group plc, said: ‘Energetix is delighted that E.ON has recognized the potential of our technology and our expertise by funding further testing and analysis of the performance, achievable energy savings and commercial value of the Genlec Micro CHP system. Attracting such deep involvement from the world’s largest investor-owned power and gas company highlights the significant market potential for Genlec’s wall-mounted micro-CHP units.’

Meanwhile, fellow micro-CHP developer Disenco Energy plc has announced the appointment of Britain’s Malvern Boilers Limited as sub-contractor to produce initial volumes of the condensing boiler element and final assembly of its home energy producing appliance, ‘HomePowerPlant’. The appointment follows that of Autocraft Industries UK as engine manufacturer for the appliance. Engines from Autocraft will be incorporated into the appliance at Malvern Boilers’ facilities utilizing the latest lean manufacturing techniques.

Based in Worcestershire, Malvern Boilers is an established international sub-contractor with micro-CHP experience.

HomePowerPlant is a dishwasher-sized appliance comprising three elements: a condensing boiler system, an external combustion Sterling engine, and an electrical generator. Combined into a home energy producing system, a unit can provide all the hot water and heating needs in the home, as well as up to 70% of its electricity requirements at peak times, says Disenco.

With the appliance generating electricity from natural gas, users will be able to cut their energy bills by several hundreds of pounds each year and excess electricity produced can be exported and sold to the national grid, adds the company.