"All energy generation options levy environmental costs.
Some of these can be mitigated through careful planning and appropriate
technology configurations." Adam Serchuk in Renewable Energy World July 2000
There is little doubt that CHP/CH
(Combined Heat & Power / Community Heating) is an environmentally superior
solution to the separate production of heat and (remote) power. It is widely
recognised as a leading CO2 mitigation technology. However, it is not without
economic challenges nor is it without some degree of environmental impact.
Whilst we might regret the economic and other obstacles, and many believe they
are unfair for a range of reasons, they are real. If we hope to overcome these
obstacles and improve penetration of CHP in the residential sector, we therefore
need to seek optimum solutions rather than indiscriminately applying CH
technology. These challenges are particularly severe for new CHP/CH schemes, but
they also face those intending to refurbish existing schemes. This paper seeks
to evaluate a range of technological solutions for a variety of applications
applied to the refurbishment and upgrading of an existing CHP/CH scheme, based
on economic and environmental objectives.
Although the economics and applicability of technologies will
vary considerably from scheme to scheme, in broad terms it can be concluded that
CHP in conjunction with a distributed heat network will be limited to very high
density housing areas in conjunction with large numbers of connections. Even for
existing schemes, if the heat distribution network requires anything more than
minor renovation, CH will have difficulty competing with other available
technologies. High density, but smaller schemes may however, take advantage of
block heating with CHP.
However, CHP will remain unattractive for the majority of UK
housing until micro CHP systems become commercially available. At that time,
economic and logistic considerations will make this the most cost effective and
environmentally benign option for mass housing.