CRC will increase demand for CHP

The Carbon Reduction Commitment (CRC) will have a positive impact on the market for combined heat and power (CHP) in buildings when it comes into effect next April.

The impact of the compulsory carbon cap and trading scheme was one of the key messages delivered by speakers at the recent Heat & Energy 09 conference attended by a large audience of public sector specifiers and government departments.

Delegates were also urged to take advantage of interest-free loans now available to support investment in low carbon technologies with CHP identified as a particularly important retrofit solution.

The conference, which was chaired by the Office of Government Commerce’s chief sustainability officer William Jordan, also debated standardised contracts and framework agreements to simplify efforts to green public sector buildings.

“CHP is treated very favourably under the CRC,” said speaker Ian Manders of the CHP Association. “It is perfect for hard-to-treat buildings. Once you have done all the easy stuff – insulation, changing light bulbs and getting people to switch things off it is very hard to get more savings from older buildings without CHP.

“It is a proven technology, there is an established industry to back it up and it can be retrofitted to existing heating systems easily…giving you control over your energy costs while also immediately cutting carbon emissions by at least 10%.”

Mr Manders used the low energy refurbishment of 18 London fire stations featuring Dachs mini-CHP systems supplied by Baxi-SenerTec UK as an example of how CHP is being used to reduce the carbon footprint of public sector buildings. In just four months, the Dachs CHP unit installed in the station at Battersea generated 4,100 kW of electricity.

Battersea, which registers the energy produced and carbon saved by the CHP system in real time on a prominently displayed digital panel, has reported a £2,500 annual saving on fuel costs. This means that the payback on the purchase cost of the CHP system will be less than six years.

Hospitals are also increasingly adopting CHP, the conference heard, with one in Birmingham reporting annual running cost savings of £650,000 for heating and cooling after replacing its old coal-fired boilers with a trigeneration system powered by a CHP engine.

Government departments were encouraged to take advantage of loans provided by the finance firm Salix, which have been set up to help public sector organisations invest in energy efficiency. Salix has created a model that shows how £45,000 spent on CHP plant would lead to carbon savings of 120 tonnes, annual energy savings of £20,000 so giving a payback of just over two years.

“We have to start thinking completely differently about how we use energy,” said E.ON’s head of marketing development Richard Scott, who also called for increased adoption of CHP among a mix of technologies required to plug the country’s growing energy gap. “Unless we reduce consumption and get more of our energy from decentralised sources…our lights will start going out in 2016.”

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