Combined Heat and Power (CHP) is the simultaneous production of heat and electricity from a single fuel source, usually at the point of use.
With a CHP system a fuel (usually natural gas) is used to drive a reciprocating engine, delivering electricity from the alternator. At the same time the heat produced by the engine working, is captured from various sources (for example from the exhaust system and engine cooling circuits) to produce hot water. On some models heat is also recovered from the alternator and engine oil, further increasing efficiency.
Typically a CHP will produce up to twice the amount of heat energy as the electricity it generates.
The classic mistake that people make is thinking the primary function of a CHP is to deliver electricity. A CHP system is basically a hot water machine with electricity as an additional benefit… and given rising energy prices this benefit can be substantial.
Cost effective applications for CHP systems are any facility where there is a continuous need for heat energy. Facilities such as:-
- Sheltered housing or assisted living accommodation
- Student accommodation
- Mixed -use developments
- Gyms and leisure centres
- Larger hotels
- Swimming pools
- Residential and care homes
- Food processing plants
Putting aside the principle benefits of electricity and heat generation, an additional significant benefit of CHP is that in certain cases standby power and island mode running can be provided. This renders a degree of independence from the grid and in some cases can provide a full standby power capability for your building or facility but this is really another topic….