Combined Heat and Power

COMBINED HEAT AND POWER (CHP) integrates the production of usable heat and power (electricity), in one single, highly efficient process. CHP generates electricity whilst also capturing usable heat that is produced in this process. This contrasts with conventional ways of generating electricity where vast amounts of heat is simply wasted. In today’s coal and gas fired power stations, up to two thirds of the overall energy consumed is lost in this way, often seen as a cloud of steam rising from cooling towers. 

In terms of saving energy, CHP is highly efficient - using waste heat, CHP plants can reach efficiency ratings in excess of 80%. This compares with the efficiency of gas power stations, which on average rate at around 50% Coal-fired plants fare even less well with an efficiency of around 38%. 

As an energy generation process, CHP is also fuel-neutral, which means that a CHP process can be applied to both renewable and fossil fuels. The specific technologies employed, and the efficiencies they achieve will vary, but in every situation CHP offers the capability to make more efficient and effective use of valuable primary energy resources. 

CHP plants provide local heat, electricity and sometimes even cooling to various types of users. Because the energy is produced locally, CHP has the added benefit of avoiding efficiency losses incurred through transmission and distribution of electricity through the National Grid and local distribution networks. Around 7% of energy would usually be lost when the network is used to transport energy from the generation source to the user. 

And to further increase its credentials in the saving energy arena, CHP can also be combined with other sustainable energy processes to increase its effectiveness and viability, for example, trigeneration is the use of a CHP unit in conjunction with an absorption chiller to provide electricity, heat and cooling. Buildings with continuous or seasonal cooling demands can install trigeneration as a cost effective and low carbon way to achieve their heating and cooling needs, with the waste heat produced by the CHP unit providing the required energy to produce chilled water. CHP really does represent one of the most interesting and versatile energy saving solutions.