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8 benefits of tribrid energy generation: a triple win for planet and profit

Aaron Parker, Principal Business Development Manager – Heat and Mechanical Energy Solutions at Centrica Business Solutions, explores how tribrid energy generation can provide a green and cost-effective solution to the heat decarbonisation challenge.

Bringing together Combined Heat and Power with on-site Solar PV generation and Heat Pumps can deliver a future-proofed transition to net zero for many organisations who want to balance both their environmental and financial goals as they follow a more sustainable pathway to net zero.

By combining these three on-site generation technologies, the economics of greener heat stack up – to benefit both planet and profit.

Reducing our gas dependence

Natural gas remains the dominant heating source across homes and business.

But it's hard to wean off this fossil fuel because it is relatively cheap, despite current price rises. That's especially so when gas is used to cogenerate energy in high efficiency Combined Heat and Power (CHP) systems.

CHP is the most cost-effective energy option possible for many heat intensive organisations and can often deliver an exceptional return on investment within 3 years – often delivering cost savings of up to 40%. And, with energy prices currently standing at an all-time high, the payback period can be significantly lower than this, and the savings significantly higher. But as organisations plan their route to net zero, many are questioning the role that CHP should play in their net zero pathway.

Tribrid cost and carbon advantage

The leading green heat option available now is Heat Pumps. This is a proven, scalable technology which can provide heating from 40°C up to 165°C, without any direct emissions. It operates in a similar way to an air conditioning unit, running in reverse.

The downside of heat pumps is that cost can be a barrier. However, Solar PV can bolster the cost and environmental performance of heat pumps, which run with zero emissions when solar powered.

By combining low-cost CHP and Solar PV with Heat Pumps as part of an on-site tribrid energy generation system, businesses can benefit financially and environmentally to make significant progress in reducing emissions, while also managing tight budgets.

Save energy by creating your own with CHP

Watch our video to see how CHP can produce electricity and heating for your business at the same time. Understand how you can drive energy efficiency and reduce costs and carbon emissions.

8 benefits of combining CHP, Heat pumps and Solar PV

  1. Carbon reduction 
    Renewable solar and green heat pumps provide the low and zero carbon energy solutions organisations are seeking to achieve major progress on carbon reduction.
  2. Cost savings 
    The impressive cost savings of CHP and solar make the economics of heat pumps stack up, enabling organisations to capitalise on lower emissions now rather than waiting for technology costs to fall as the market expands.
  3. Revenue generation opportunities 
    The three on-site generation assets can generate income from power flexibility in demand side markets. The on-site generation assets can be turned up or turned down and flexible capacity used to earn income. Adding battery energy storage into the mix can further enhance optimisation opportunities in fast response markets.
  4. Flexibility 
    The tribrid system provides ultimate flexibility and can be sized and configured in line the site's energy profile and the business goal. If carbon savings are prioritised then heat pumps would provide the majority heat load, supported by CHP during peak demand periods. The opposite would apply if cost saving was deemed more important.
  5. Future-proofed 
    A future-proofed solution that can be adapted in line with changing business objectives and can be designed to achieve incremental carbon savings to meet net zero goals.
  6. Internal changes 
    The CHP/Heat Pump hybrid system may require fewer internal changes to heating system than installing heat pump alone.
  7. Heating and cooling 
    Capacity to provide both cooling and heating, with opportunity to deliver highly cost-effective simultaneous heating and cooling.
  8. Higher temperatures 
    CHP can operate at higher temperatures than heat pumps, so a hybrid approach can provide a greener solution for industrial processes that require high temperatures.

What sectors and applications are suitable?  

As with specifying any CHP, it is sites with a high and extended heat demand that can benefit most from tribrid or hybrid energy systems. Consequently, this approach can work well for a wide range of sectors, including:

Any type of heat pump can be used in the tribrid system, dependent on a range of factors. But it's more likely that air or ground source pumps would be specified rather than water or waste-source technologies. That's because the capital costs of air source pumps are lower and they can be installed with relative ease.

Tribrid systems are ideal for both retrofit and new build projects. Many sites that already have CHP in situ can be reconfigured with minimal disruption to share the heating/cooling load with electric heat pumps. This can also work as a hybrid solution, without solar, which will reduce emissions savings, but still provide significant net zero gains.

Specialist low carbon heat support

As a leading heat pump, CHP and Solar PV supplier, Centrica Business Solutions provides a complete design, installation, operation and maintenance service for all types of on-site energy generation solutions and can advise organisations on the best options for their needs.

In today’s volatile environment, we recognise that cost can be a barrier for some organisations looking to explore new energy generation technologies. We can help, by guiding you on how to access government grants, or supply flexible financing to keep projects off balance sheet. Find out more about our capabilities:

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