Shifting roles for CHP in modern power systems

How is combined heat and power (CHP) ” still mostly gas-fired ” to maintain a significant role in a mature energy system currently undergoing transformation to low carbon generation? The UK Association for Decentralised Energy (ADE) addresses this question in a new brochure that seeks to balance the benefits to business energy users of high efficiency on-site energy generation with efforts to decarbonize the overall electricity system.

In the old days, the efficiency of using ‘waste’ heat on site in a combined heat and power operation was often decisive in any comparison with distinctly low-efficiency coal-fired power generation and on-site boilers. As combined cycle gas-fired power generation came onto the system, the efficiency advantage was still there, but smaller. But the electricity system operating in the UK now is different again, incorporating significant quantities of wind and solar power.

So does gas-fired CHP still have a good case ” alongside the growing proportion of biofueled CHP? Certainly, says the ADE ” particularly as the costs of government support for decarbonization are falling on energy users. That’s not just support for wind farms and PV arrays, but also for market balancing services that ensure generation is in place when intermittent renewables are not delivering the goods.

The ADE suggests that there is an important role for business energy users to play in keeping the power systems working ” by investing in new CHP plants which could be operated flexibly in order to take care of some grid system balancing needs. Meanwhile, the host businesses would be avoiding higher energy costs. Britain expects to see up 14 GW of new gas-fired generating capacity joining the system in the next decade or so, says the ADE, adding that much of this should be CHP.

Meanwhile, also in the UK, one of the ‘big six’ energy providers, E.ON, has backed publication by environmental news provider edie of a new guide to on-site power generation. E.ON prides itself on being more than simply an energy supplier, with a well-established portfolio of CHP schemes that it runs for customers and still helping businesses to set-up their own on-site generation. The guide lists solar PV, on-site wind turbines, CHP, ground/air source heat pumps and anaerobic digestion plants as options for businesses to adopt.

Britain’s ” and many other countries’ ” electricity systems are changing fast. Flexible operation is now an essential trait of any component of that system.à‚ 

No posts to display