Combined heat and power (CHP) and decentralized energy fit well with the UK coalition government’s ‘big society’ agenda, said Energy and Climate Change minister Greg Barker, addressing the UK CHP Association’s annual conference in London.
Barker said he wanted ‘literally to bring power to the people, to communities and to local businesses.’
‘The age of passive, wasteful energy consumption is over,’ added Barker: ‘We are breaking down the barriers between generation and use controlled by a distant, centralized government.’
Barker said that his government continued to support green and decentralized energy initiatives, despite having to make very serious cuts in government spending elsewhere – budgets for the new feed-in tariffs for small-scale renewables and CHP, and the proposed renewable heat incentive remain largely intact after a recent spending review.
The government also used the occasion to launch a new website aimed at supporting decentralized energy initiatives – Community Energy Online.
A less helpful note was struck by David Kennedy, chief executive of the Climate Change Committee, which advises the government on setting carbon budgets.
Against a background of recognition of the growing role of biomass and biogas-fuelled CHP, and of the need to decarbonize the power generation and heat industries, Kennedy seemed to dismiss the continuing role for gas – no-one should be investing in gas-burning equipment from the early 2020s, he said.
Director of the CHPA Graham Meeks ended the event with a bullish assessment of the state of the UK industry.
Hundreds of micro-CHP units are now operating in Britain, he said, and 260 mid-sized, packaged CHP units were installed in the last year. On the industrial front, commissioning of the Isle of Grain scheme and an extension to the Immingham refinery CHP scheme demonstrated that there is still scope for new, large-scale projects.
Last, the need for organizations to control their operating costs even more closely these days fits well with the cost-effectiveness of CHP, he concluded.
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