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The role of micro CHP in a decarbonising energy system

November 2011

There is currently considerable debate as to the potential role for micro CHP within an energy system that is becoming increasingly decarbonised and may ultimately become carbon neutral.  It is argued by some that as the carbon content of the grid supplied electricity reduces it will eventually reach a point at which natural gas fired micro CHP no longer makes an effective contribution to reducing carbon emissions and, as the grid decarbonises further, micro CHP actually increases carbon emissions. 

These observers tend to overlook the importance of transitional measures and thus underestimate the potential contribution of micro CHP to a long term, sustainable low carbon energy system.

The paper discusses the potential contribution to a decarbonising energy system and concludes that, within the context of an energy system evolving from our current high carbon electricity system based largely on fossil fuel generation, to a sustainable low carbon system, it is probable that micro CHP will have a key role to play for several decades, both in terms of providing security of supply in support of a gradual electrification of the heat and personal transport sectors, and as a carbon mitigating technology with or without the decarbonisation of the gas grid.

It is also quite likely that micro CHP will continue to play a role on a permanent basis as an element of a bivalent energy system to optimise the performance of domestic heating systems dependent on the availability of low carbon intermittent renewable electricity generation.


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This site was last updated on 01 January 2015  Jeremy Harrison