From the Editor

Heat is always local ” unlike electricity it cannot be transported any great distance from point of generation to user without losses making the whole exercise pointless. So, while we often emphasize the technology and use of on-site power within these pages, much of the energy used by industry, buildings, homes and towns and cities is thermal energy ” heat.

Indeed, heat has always been the key ingredient to the efficiency advantages of CHP (cogeneration): make use of the ‘waste’ heat inevitably produced in electricity generation by burning fuels, and the overall efficiency rises from 30%”50% to a much healthier 70%, 80%, even 90%. And, in warmer climates where heat is not a useful commodity, modern chiller technology allows that same ‘waste’ heat to be turned into useful cooling energy.

So it’s good to see the importance of heat getting serious coverage in this issue; alongside the on-site power, of course. In his perspective article on page 17, John Piggott contrasts the Danish experience of using public money to fund the very expensive laying of heat mains between local energy stations and client buildings, to the preferred UK practice of putting similar funds into work establishing a network of natural gas pipes around the country. Where heat pipelines already exist, the low cost of connection makes district heating the preferred choice.

There is also a news story about the new heat-saving strategy being adopted by the British government as part of its efforts to control carbon emissions. And a feature article from Italy describes how by-product heat, that would otherwise go to waste at industrial sites, can be captured and put to work generating electricity for use on-site ” with no fuel costs.

Also this issue, on the technical front, we take a good look at developments in reciprocating engines for CHP, the importance of expert service and maintenance for gas turbine-based plant and the crucial role that
battery storage can play in local power generation. Finally, California and Germany ” experience gained during a highly successful programme of financial support to ‘self-generation’ plant in the former, and the potential for distributed generation in the domestic sector in the latter.

Steve Hodgson

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