Combined Heat and Power (CHP) Supporting the Journey to Net Zero
The journey to net-zero presents many questions about where combined heat and power (CHP) gas engines fit into the future of the UK energy network. Achieving net-zero cannot come at the expense of fuel poverty or energy blackouts and it is therefore vital to balance the ‘Energy Trilemma’ of sustainability, affordability, and security during the transition. CHP remains a highly versatile and efficient use of primary energy which can offer benefits and balance covering all three aspects of the energy trilemma.
CHP can work alongside other renewable energy technologies and energy storage systems as part of a sustainable hybrid energy solution. A recent project example is the award-winning hybrid energy system delivered by Clarke Energy to power one of the largest greenhouses in the UK. The 217,000m2 AGR Fenland greenhouse site combines a 33MWth heat pump system with a 9MWe CHP plant with CO2 recovery. The installation of heat pumps provides renewable hot water heating to the glasshouse and the CO2 recovered from exhaust gases is transferred to the glasshouse to help accelerate the growth of the produce. The greenhouse will grow 10% of cucumbers consumed in Britain and uses 30% less CO2 than conventionally heated greenhouse.
Clarke Energy will also be demonstrating another innovative carbon capture and conversion system at Severn Trent Water site in Derby. The recovered CO2 will be turned into eco-friendly products with variety of uses including paint and fertilisers.
Gas engines can be fuelled by numerous low-carbon or renewable fuels including pipeline gas, biogas, biomethane and are now able to operate on up to 100% hydrogen. CHP plants can be adapted in future to meet the changing gas network supply, meaning investments can be made safely for new or existing facilities. Running a renewable fuelled gas engine with carbon capture technology could in fact make your CHP plant carbon negative.
CHP also offers affordability with typical paybacks of <3 years and with a minimum life of 15 years, it can offer 12 years+ of savings to invest in other carbon saving initiatives or business growth. With the availability of a tax allowance / deduction, allowing up to 130% tax offset against the full CHP CAPEX investment a CHP installation can earn revenue for your business not just save money on energy costs.
Finally, CHP delivers security of supply and can be configured as a safety net for your business operations. With minimal investment you can not only dramatically reduce your energy costs, and carbon footprint, but also prevent loss of production or business should a grid event occur.
It is important not to view CHP as an obstacle on the road to net-zero but rather an essential transitional technology to support the world’s collective journey there.