The UK Government definition of Microgeneration1
applies to a rather surprising mix of heat and
power technologies with a thermal output below 45kWt
or an electrical output of 50kWe.
It covers electrical generation from wind, solar photovoltaics (PV) and
hydro, heat generation from biomass, solar thermal and heat pumps as
well as micro CHP which produces heat and power from renewable or fossil
fuels. It is not just another term for small scale renewables, but
comprises a portfolio of low carbon technologies.
There has been a tendency amongst advocates and sceptics alike to lump all Microgeneration technologies together,
either as "all good" or "all bad". This is particularly unhelpful when
attempting to understand the potential contribution Microgeneration can
make to UK energy strategy and it is important that we understand the
particular characteristics and potential role of each technology.
The purpose of this paper is to examine these characteristics and the
relative merits of the main technologies included in the scope of
Microgeneration, with particular reference to micro CHP.