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‘Cinderella’ technology must be invited to the ball

21st February 2013


Proven energy efficient technology that can transform environmental and cost performance is being sidelined, despite colossal economic pressure, regulatory concerns, and rising fears over security of supply, says sustainable power group ENER-G.

Energy costs have risen by more than 100 per cent in the past 12 months, while businesses are bracing themselves for the impact of new legislation such as the Carbon Reduction Commitment.

Combined heat and power (CHP) – the simultaneous generation of electricity and useful heat that is almost twice as efficient as conventional power generation – could help businesses to fight back on both fronts.

However, Alan Barlow, managing director of ENER-G Combined Power, believes the focus has been diverted from tried-and-tested CHP by more glamorous new, and often unproven, renewable technologies.

He said: “CHP reduces greenhouse emissions drastically by capturing the heat output that is wasted in conventional power generation. But unlike renewable technologies such as wind it doesn’t benefit from large subsidies and suffers from ‘Cinderella syndrome’ in which its value goes largely unrecognised.

“We need renewable generation, but in our race to meet targets we must not forget about those important technologies that help consumers cut their carbon output. CHP electricity is around one third of the price charged by conventional UK suppliers and cuts carbon by around 20 per cent yet out of all the members of the European Union the UK’s current CHP capacity is the fourth lowest.”

The forthcoming Carbon Reduction Commitment represents another huge challenge for organisations struggling to drive down costs. The mandatory ‘cap and trade’ system is designed to fill a gap in carbon abatement incentives for the public, commercial and industrial sectors.

“As a carbon-cutting technology with a formidable track record, CHP is a cost effective tool for managing the impact of the Carbon Reduction Commitment and organisations affected would be well-advised to give serious thought to installing a CHP system,” said Mr Barlow.

The Government's target is to reach a UK CHP capacity of 10,000 MW by 2010. Latest official statistics show that every 1 MW of CHP operating in the UK helps reduce carbon emissions by between 510 and 760 tonnes every year.

“New power generating capacity which is not developed as a CHP plant represents a potential missed opportunity for carbon savings and energy conservation,” added Mr Barlow.

“Much is being made of the spiralling energy costs and lack of control, and yet CHP is often overlooked as the answer to these problems.” 

A strong example of efficient energy management is Birmingham Heartlands, a general hospital in east Birmingham run by Heart of England NHS Foundation Trust. A new ENER-G CHP system within a new Energy Centre means it can generate its own electricity, saving £688,000 annually and cutting emissions of CO2.

ENER-G’s CHP systems are also used by the British Royal family to power both Buckingham Palace and Windsor Castle. Over a 12 year period the Royal family has generated more than13 million KWh of electricity, sufficient to make  130 million cups of tea – more than two cups each for every man, woman and child in the United Kingdom. They have also cut carbon emissions by more than 3000 tonnes.   

ENER-G helped pioneer CHP technology back in the early 1980s. Since then, the company has used its advanced technologies to help organisations across the world to reduce their carbon emissions by millions of tonnes. 

ENER-G  is a UK-owned sustainable energy technology business, providing renewable and energy efficient power generation and management across the globe. The company has helped organisations reduce carbon dioxide emissions by more than 20 million tonnes.

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