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Securing long-term on-site energy control with Combined Heat and Power

How CHP project design consultants and installation teams can contribute towards a sustainable energy future with high efficiency on-site generation.

Increased electricity demand, escalating costs, pressure on the grid and a greater drive towards sustainability mean that businesses are looking for alternatives to centralised supply – one that enables efficient on-site energy control. With the spark spread at an incredibly attractive rate, the opportunity presented by Combined Heat and Power (CHP) to deliver a source of power that takes advantage of this provides secure, flexible energy supply that is cost-effective and easy to manage.

But these are only some of the considerations that consultants need to take into account when working with clients on a CHP installation. You need an energy solutions partner who can ensure any CHP installation is scoped, installed, operated, maintained and optimisation for optimal performance. A provider that gives real-time knowledge and insight into individual usage, emissions data and helps meet compliance regulations.

Combined Heat and Power (CHP) is a well-established technology, but one that is constantly evolving to keep it amongst the best energy-saving solutions available. It’s one of the most efficient sources of energy production – and can play a role in supporting a business’ net zero transition by providing significant cost savings for UK businesses. With a return on investment in the region of two to three years, CHP drives cost efficiencies into the organisation that can be used to fund pure green technologies with longer paybacks and more marginal economics.

Matching flexibility to your project

Clearly, the most important thing to consider before investigating a CHP solution is whether it is right for an organisation to utilise the technology. To make this assessment and scope a project there are several steps that you and a solutions provider can take to ensure the appropriateness of CHP for the site.

Energy data collection is fundamental for correctly sizing a unit and calculating the associated savings accurately. The appropriate site data needs to be collected and validated, with at a minimum a requirement for utility consumption of the site (grid electricity and natural gas) and the associated tariffs (i.e. p/kWh).

Producing an initial feasibility study using data collected in a desktop setting will validate the data outlined and provide a simple evaluation of whether a CHP scheme is likely to be feasible or not. The output is often conducted by calculating the spark-spread between the grid electricity tariff and the natural gas tariff.

Conducting an on-site review determines more solid installation options and cost by understanding the sites suitability for CHP and interfacing with all site services required to deliver optimal performance. Installation costs can vary dramatically from site to site depending on several key factors:

  • Location of CHP plant
  • Gas availability
  • Space allocation
  • Planning implications
  • Noise issues
  • Local regulations
  • Maintenance restrictions
  • Electrical connections i.e. LV, HV, network restrictions
  • Thermal integration
  • Emissions regulations

Our new technical guide shows how our Combined Heat and Power units can help your project achieve long-term performance.


Ensuring a partner has you covered

Deploying a CHP project to a site requires careful planning and part of delivering sustained benefits for the lifetime of your asset is ensuring the asset doesn’t fall foul of regulations or environmental compliance considerations.

Some important issues you should check:

  • Permissions: Is planning permission necessary? Are your plans compliant with relevant rules and frameworks, ie. BREEAM, Building Regulations Level 2, etc.?
  • Low NOx: Do you understand the environmental compliance requirements, especially operating within NOx guidelines? Modern CHP energy systems should reduce your overall NOx emissions, which you need to calculate to a BREEAM-approved format.
  • Low Noise: CHPs are often situated in plant rooms in built up areas, it can often be the case that there are bedrooms or offices located near the CHP location. Therefore, noise outputs must be considered when specifying a CHP.
  • G99/G100 Protection: Is the generator connected to the mains in accordance with the requirements of G99/G100? And does the relay meet enable you to easily enact further protection if requested by the DNO?
  • Remote Monitoring System: Does the CHP utilise control systems that are linked to cloud-based control, protection and monitoring system? Can the provider control engine starting, synchronise the generator to the mains electricity supply and help control the power output?

Three rapid deployment CHP options

Broadly there are three types of CHP solution that can be scoped, designed and deployed as part of a project; each with variously levels of customisation.

1. Standardised units

The fastest way to deploy a CHP is to utilise units that have been pre-built to specific sizes. This usually means that units are immediately available to deploy to a site but does limit the amount of customisation possible. Centrica Business Solutions have a range of standardised CHPs that are designed to plug in and play at any site.

2. Semi-customisable units

Should you wish to have slight changes in the design of the Rapid units, be this the enclosure noise rating, removing Modbus, increasing the ventilation fan rating or selecting a unit that is not of standard size, then we can customise the unit design before production starts.  

3. Fully bespoke units

Sometimes there is the project that just doesn’t fit the mould. Perhaps you have limited access space, a unique site or specific requirements such as working on a listed or protected building. 

Centrica Business Solutions’ bespoke units take all the services offered by standardised and semi-customisable units and add 100% flexibility to design, manufacturing and deployment specifications. We will help with data collection and sizing, as well assessing feasibility and we can use our advanced modelling and data systems as well as our expertise to help with the more difficult and unusual projects.

It’s about more than just the engine

Deploying your CHP successfully means doing more than just buying and placing the engine. To get the best results and deliver long-term energy cost savings, you need an energy solutions partner who can supplement your unit with additional services and products.

  • Flexible asset financing: Many organisations face challenges when looking at on-site generation projects because of capital constraints and competing funding priorities. This makes it difficult to build a complex and detailed investment case to secure senior approval. Asset financing from a solutions provider or a 3rd party can ensure your business case is robust.
  • Green Gas supply: While almost 70% of CHP schemes in the UK currently run on natural gas, green gas CHP will play an increasingly important role as the grid decarbonises. Centrica plc has a 50 per cent stake in Barrow Green Gas, the UK's largest supplier of biomethane – shipping almost half of the green gas used by British homes and businesses
  • Energy visualisation: If you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it. Our industry-leading energy management software, PowerRadar, brings the intelligence and visibility you need to understand and analyse your entire energy estate – providing a single view to visualise and track the performance of your CHP solution
  • Operation and Maintenance: Ensuring the ongoing, safe and optimal performance of your CHP is key to getting the best savings over the long-term. We offer a choice of industry leading Combined Heat and Power (CHP) service plans – giving you the level of care your business requires
  • Optimisation: The potential to cluster energy assets in a decentralised smart-grid or virtual power plant is exciting and likely to become more commonplace in the future. Centrica offers businesses the ability take their energy from a business cost to a business advantage with new digitised energy management solutions, such as Demand Side Response to monetise on-site generation.

Why choose us as your CHP project partner?

The CHP specification process is complex, but our expert support is available to guide you every step of the way, across the lifetime of your CHP unit. Centrica Business Solutions is a market leader in CHP, with over 3,200 CHP built in the UK to date and deployed all over the global. We have more than 30 years’ experience as both a manufacturer and supplier of world class cogeneration systems, with deep technical knowledge of all stages of design, delivery and operation of innovative CHP projects across the globe.