Micro CHP in rural areas
Micro Combined Heat & Power (CHP) has
the potential to revolutionise the electricity industry in the UK and much of
Western Europe. It is a cost-effective method of generating electricity with an
estimated potential capacity of up to 22GW installed in the UK, significantly
greater than the entire nuclear industry.
Not only is it economically viable for the end-user without
any form of subsidy, it also represents the most cost effective carbon
mitigation strategy of all technologies at or near market.
However, the current estimates of market potential are
invariably based on the assumption that micro CHP units will replace gas-fired
boilers in hydronic central heating systems. Whilst this may be true in the
early stages of market development, there is a substantial additional potential
for installations in rural areas where a natural gas network is not available
and the opportunities for network support are considerably greater. Including
such installations in the estimates for micro CHP raises the potential by around
10% in the UK, but up to 100% in other EU States, such as France.
Of greater significance, perhaps, is that these installations
may also provide the earliest opportunity for the utilisation of liquid
bio-fuels, raising carbon mitigation potential to over 50 million tonnes per
year in the UK, and demonstrating the longer term role of micro CHP as a
carbon-free domestic energy supply option.