A Complete Guide to CHP

Is CHP the right solution for your business? This article will provide you with all the information you need to help make that decision.
Veolia cogeneration / combined heat and power (CHP) at Haringey

A Complete Guide to CHP (Combined Heat & Power)

Find out what CHP is, how CHP systems work and the renewable aspects it has to offer. Explore the advantages it can deliver and whether it could be a viable solution for you.

What is CHP?

CHP (Combined Heat and Power), is a highly efficient method of generating electricity and heat simultaneously. It is a process that captures waste heat produced by the generation of electricity and uses it to heat buildings or produce additional electricity. This process is clearly much more efficient than traditional methods of power generation, which typically waste a lot of the heat being produced.

CHP is an energy-efficient technology that is gaining popularity within the UK as a way to reduce energy costs and carbon emissions. As a result of its versatility it can be used in a variety of applications, including in commercial buildings, hospitals, and industrial facilities.



How Does a CHP System Work?

If you're looking to implement a CHP (Combined Heat and Power) system in your building, it's important to understand how it works. 

Traditionally, power stations generate electricity from the combustion of fossil fuels, which results in wasted heat. A CHP (or cogeneration) unit generates the electricity where it is needed and additionally gives the opportunity to use the excess heat for heating and hot water. This can make CHP more than twice as efficient as conventional power stations -  giving you cost savings, reducing emissions and carbon footprint.

CHP plants gain their high energy efficiency by capturing and utilising the heat that comes from the engine during electricity generation – in this way the single fuel source provides both heat and electricity for your site. By generating directly on your site grid transmission losses are also avoided which also increases the energy efficiency and lowers the carbon emissions.


The efficiency of this technology has a key economic benefit – by maximising the transformation of the fuel into energy for your site, the costs are significantly reduced. In this way investing in CHP has an early payback against energy cost savings and savings continue for the lifetime of the CHP unit which can be 20 years or more.


Tri generation – efficient electricity, heating and cooling

The process of cogeneration produces heat and power, however during the summer months the heat generated may not be fully utilised on site. Trigeneration is a combination of cogeneration and absorption chilling - by using the excess heat to operate an absorption chiller, which is linked to the cogeneration unit, the trigeneration CHP can provide electricity heating and cooling for air conditioning.



What are the Advantages of CHP?

CHP is an innovative and sustainable energy solution that offers numerous benefits to both residential and commercial users. One of the main advantages of CHP is its efficiency rate. CHP systems can achieve an efficiency rate of up to 90%, compared to traditional energy systems that typically operate at around 45-50% efficiency. By using CHP, businesses and households can significantly reduce their energy consumption, which ultimately leads to lower energy bills and cost savings.

Another benefit of CHP is its ability to reduce carbon emissions. Because CHP systems are more efficient than traditional energy systems, they produce fewer greenhouse gas emissions per unit of energy generated. This makes CHP an excellent option for environmentally conscious businesses and households looking to reduce their carbon footprint.

CHP systems also offer improved reliability and energy security. By generating their own electricity, businesses and households can reduce their dependence on the grid and avoid the risk of power outages. This is particularly beneficial for critical facilities such as hospitals and data centres, where an uninterrupted power supply is essential.

Finally, CHP systems offer a range of financial incentives and support schemes to encourage their adoption. Governments around the world are introducing incentives such as tax credits, grants and low-interest loans to promote the use of CHP, making it a financially attractive option for businesses and households.


Is CHP Renewable?

As mentioned throughout this guide, CHP uses a singular fuel source. This fuel source can be renewable or non-renewable, such as natural gas, coal, biomass, or even waste heat. Therefore, the renewability of CHP depends on the type of fuel used.

If the fuel source for CHP is a renewable resource, such as biomass or biogas, then CHP can be considered a renewable energy source. On the other hand, if the fuel source is non-renewable, such as natural gas or coal, then CHP cannot be considered renewable.

However, it's worth noting that even if the fuel source for CHP is non-renewable, it still offers significant environmental benefits over traditional electricity generation.


Is CHP Sustainable?

The process is much more efficient than traditional power generation, which often wastes heat by simply releasing it into the atmosphere.

CHP can be a highly efficient and cost-effective way to generate electricity and heat. It can help reduce greenhouse gas emissions and lower energy costs for businesses and households alike.

However, it's important to note that CHP is not a silver bullet solution for sustainability. While it can be a helpful tool in the transition towards a more sustainable energy system, it's not without its drawbacks. For example, CHP still relies on fossil fuels, which are a finite resource and contribute to climate change.

That being said, there are ways to make CHP more sustainable. For example, using renewable biogas instead of natural gas can reduce carbon emissions and help create a circular economy by repurposing waste. Additionally, pairing CHP with energy storage solutions like batteries can make it more flexible.


Are CHP Boilers Any Good?

CHP boilers are gaining popularity in the UK. But are CHP boilers any good? How efficient are they? And is CHP becoming more common within the UK?

Firstly, are CHP boilers any good? CHP boilers are a great option for those looking to reduce their carbon footprint and energy bills. They work by generating electricity and heat simultaneously, which means that they are incredibly efficient compared to traditional boilers. This also means that they are a more environmentally friendly option, as they produce less carbon dioxide and other harmful emissions.

So, how efficient is a CHP boiler? CHP boilers are very efficient, with some models boasting an efficiency rating of up to 90%. This means that they waste very little energy, which is great news for both the environment and your wallet. In fact, CHP boilers are so efficient that they have been known to pay for themselves in as little as three years.

Finally, is CHP common within the UK? While CHP boilers are not as common as traditional boilers, they are gaining popularity. According to recent statistics, there are currently around 2,000 CHP units installed across the UK, with a total capacity of over 4,000 MW. This number is expected to grow as more and more people become aware of the benefits of CHP boilers.