Combined heat and power (CHP) can make an important contribution to new legally binding carbon reduction targets approved by the UK government, says ENER-G.
The fifth carbon budget passed into law during July and commits the UK to slashing CO2 emissions by 57 per cent between 2028 and 2032, against 1990 levels. One of its key recommendations is to increase the uptake of low carbon heat.
Wasted heat is a weak link in the current energy supply chain. Forty per cent of the UK’s energy is used to generate heat energy; and heat wasted from buildings accounts for half of our total energy emissions. Such waste has been highlighted in a report by a coalition of industrial manufacturers and environmental groups, which states that 54% of energy used to produce electricity is being wasted via conventional power production at a cost of £9.5 billion per year.
The UK’s energy productivity problems can be significantly improved by moving from centralised to decentralised production, using technologies such as CHP. By capturing and utilising heat via CHP, organisations can achieve 85% efficiency, more than double that of conventional power production. The technology can reduce CO2 emissions by as much as 30%, as well as achieving cost savings of up to 40%.
Chris Marsland, Technical Director for ENER-G Cogen International, said: “CHP consistently provides a highly effective method for converting natural gas and carbon-neutral fuels, such as biogas, into useable power and heat. This is particularly beneficial for applications where there is a large heating or cooling demand, like hotels, hospitals, universities, leisure centres and industry. CHP also scores in terms of versatility – since it is suitable for new and refurbished buildings, as a replacement for an ageing boiler plant, or in augmenting existing or new boilers.”
Most local authorities are now championing CHP as part of local planning and building regulation approvals, with assessments needing to consider district heating networks and community heating schemes with CHP as a main energy source. The Government is supporting the development of heat networks with a commitment of £300 million and aiming to dramatically increase the level of district heating.
The UK’s energy industry is coping with a turbulent transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy and the need to maintain energy security. CHP has long been considered the ultimate agile and flexible technology and it is an essential part of the energy mix. Its rotating momentum helps stabilise the network and manage system stresses when there is wide fluctuation in power output, as is the case with intermittent sources such as wind and solar.
Decentralised energy generation using on-site CHP is already playing a vital role in securing supply at peak times as a key plank of National Grid’s Demand Side Balancing Reserve (DSBR) and Turn Up schemes. Through such incentives, CHP generators are able to generate extra income by exporting power onto the national grid to meet capacity constraints, or turning off supply, or shifting loads to compensate for excess renewable generation when demand for electricity is low.
The use of CHP and other decentralised supplies, including renewables, is being taken to a new level of demand response via smart grids, such as the Smart Cornwall project, which plans to develop the U.K’s first integrated smart energy network. Research undertaken by ENER-G in partnership with Advanced Digital Institute; Flexitricity; Smarter Grid Solutions and UK Power Networks has provided simulations to demonstrate the potential of clusters of CHP assets in a decentralised smart-grid or virtual network.
Low-carbon, energy saving technologies like CHP have a big role to play in productive decentralised energy production, helping stabilise and decarbonise energy supply and future-proof security.
Further information: www.energ.co.uk
Is Wood Burning Sustainable For Your Home?
Wood is a classic heat source, whether we think about people gathered around a campfire or wood stoves in old cabins, but is it a sustainable source of heat in modern society? The answer is an ambivalent one. In certain settings, wood heat is an ideal solution, but for the majority of homes, it isn’t especially suitable. So what’s the tipping point?
Wood heat is ideal for small homes on large properties, for individuals who can gather their own wood, and who have modern wood burning ovens. A green approach to wood heat is one of biofuel on the smallest of scales.
Is Biofuel Green?
One of the reasons that wood heat is a source of so much divide in the eco-friendly community is that it’s a renewable resource and renewable has become synonymous with green. What wood heat isn’t, though, is clean or healthy. It lets off a significant amount of carbon and particulates, and trees certainly don’t grow as quickly as it’s consumed for heat.
Of course, wood is a much less harmful source of heat than coal, but for scientists interested in developing green energy sources, it makes more sense to focus on solar and wind power. Why, then, would they invest in improved wood burning technology?
Solar and wind technology are good large-scale energy solutions, but when it comes to small-space heating, wood has its own advantages. First, wood heat is in keeping with the DIY spirit of homesteaders and tiny house enthusiasts. These individuals are more likely to be driven to gather their own wood and live in small spaces that can be effectively heated as such.
Wood heat is also very effective on an individual scale because it requires very little infrastructure. Modern wood stoves made of steel rather than cast iron are built to EPA specifications, and the only additional necessary tools include a quality axe, somewhere to store the wood, and an appropriate covering to keep it dry. And all the wood can come from your own land.
Wood heat is also ideal for people living off the grid or in cold areas prone to frequent power outages, as it’s constantly reliable. Even if the power goes out, you know that you’ll be able to turn up the heat. That’s important if you live somewhere like Maine where the winters can get exceedingly cold. People have even successfully heated a 40’x34’ home with a single stove.
Benefits Of Biomass
The ultimate question regarding wood heat is whether any energy source that’s dangerous on the large scale is acceptable on a smaller one. For now, the best answer is that with a growing population and limited progress towards “pure” green energy, wood should remain a viable option, specifically because it’s used on a limited scale. Biomass heat is even included in the UK’s Renewable Heat Initiative and minor modifications can make it even more sustainable.
Wood stoves, when embraced in conjunction with pellet stoves, geothermal heating, and masonry heaters, all more efficient forms of sustainable heat, should be part of a modern energy strategy. Ultimately, we’re headed in the direction of diversified energy – all of it cleaner – and wood has a place in the big picture, serving small homes and off-the-grid structures, while solar, wind, and other large-scale initiatives fuel our cities.
7 Benefits You Should Consider Giving Your Energy Employees
As an energy startup, you’re always looking to offer the most competitive packages to entice top-tier talent. This can be tough, especially when trying to put something together that’s both affordable but also has perks that employees are after.
After all, this is an incredibly competitive field and one that’s constantly doing what it can to stay ahead. However, that’s why I’m bringing you a few helpful benefits that could be what bolsters you ahead of your competition. Check them out below:
One benefit commonly overlooked by companies is offering your employees financial advising services, which could help them tremendously in planning for their long-term goals with your firm. This includes anything from budgeting and savings plans to recommendations for credit repair services and investments. Try to take a look at if your energy company could bring on an extra person or two specifically for this role, as it will pay off tremendously regarding retention and employee happiness.
While often included in a lot of health benefits packages, offering your employees life insurance could be an excellent addition to your current perks. Although seldom used, life insurance is a small sign that shows you care about the life of their family beyond just office hours. Additionally, at such a low cost, this is a pretty simple aspect to add to your packages. Try contacting some brokers or insurance agents to see if you can find a policy that’s right for your firm.
Dedicated Time To Enjoy Their Hobbies
Although something seen more often in startups in Silicon Valley, having dedicated office time for employees to enjoy their passions is something that has shown great results. Whether it be learning the piano or taking on building a video game, having your team spend some time on the things they truly enjoy can translate to increased productivity. Why? Because giving them the ability to better themselves, they’ll in turn bring that to their work as well.
The Ability To Work Remotely
It’s no secret that a lot of employers despise the idea of letting their employees work remotely. However, it’s actually proven to hold some amazing benefits. According to Global Workplace Analytics, 95% of employers that allow their employees to telework reported an increased rate of retention, saving on both turnover and sick days. Depending on the needs of each individual role, this can be a strategy to implement either whenever your team wants or on assigned days. Either way, this is one perk almost everyone will love.
Even though it’s mandated for companies with over 50 employees, offering health insurance regardless is arguably a benefit well received across the board. In fact, as noted in research compiled by KFF, 28.6% of employers with less than 50 people still offered health care. Why is that the case? Because it shows you care about their well-being, and know that a healthy employee is one that doesn’t have to worry about astronomical medical bills.
Unlimited Time Off
This is a perk that almost no employer offers but should be regarded as something to consider. According to The Washington Post, only 1-2% of companies offer unlimited vacation, which it’s easy to see why. A true “unlimited vacation” program could be a firm’s worse nightmare, with employees skipping out every other week to enjoy themselves. However, with the right model in place that rewards hard work with days off, your employees will absolutely adore this policy.
A Full Pantry
Finally, having a pantry full of food can be one perk that’s not only relatively inexpensive but also adds to the value of the workplace. As noted by USA Today, when surveying employees who had snacks versus those who didn’t, 67% of those who did reported they were “very happy” with their work life. You’d be surprised at how much of a difference this could make, especially when considering the price point. Consider adding a kitchen to your office if you haven’t already, and always keep the snacks and drinks everyone wants fully stocked. Doing so will increase morale tremendously.
Compiling a great package for your energy company is going to take some time in looking at what you can afford versus what’s the most you can offer. While it might mean cutting back in other areas, having a workforce that feels like you genuinely want to take care of them can take you far. And with so many different benefits to include in your energy company’s package, which one is your favorite? Comment with your answers below!