When there is such a range of energy-saving and carbon reduction technologies available, it may often be difficult to decide amongst them. It is true to say that each individual technology should be considered on its own merits, and the services of a specialist consultant may be required in order to manage the performance and financial assessments that are part of this process.

However, to simplify this it is worth remembering that if you have a use for electricity and heat energy, then CHP may well be the fastest payback, and the most financially beneficial single technology you can use.

Consider a practical example. Take for instance a natural gas CHP producing 80 kW of electrical energy and 120 kW of thermal energy. When compared to other technologies, some interesting comparisons come to light.

You would require 100’s of square metres of solar PV panels to create the same electrical output – and then even only on a sunny day…you would also not get a heat benefit.

If you considered biomass boilers, to achieve the 120 kW of thermal energy you would need plentiful access to a decent biomass fuel source, a large volume of storage area, and the ability to tolerate regular deliveries from HGVs. This would give you heat but no electricity.

Wind turbines capable of generating 80 kW of electricity are substantial. You would have to erect a large, unsightly turbine, or an array of smaller ones. Although wind energy is considered ‘free’ it is inconsistent, and may not always be available at the most appropriate times for your energy needs. It also gives you no heat.

So is CHP right for everybody? No of course not. But, if you have an application for electricity and heat, CHP remains fully controllable, available 24/7, and can deliver substantial, consistent energy savings – whether the wind blows or the sun shines. In many cases it is also can be the largest single carbon reduction technology that you can install.

To find out more about CHP systems in practice read the case study.