Cooking using leftovers and cheap ingredients, also known as Cucina Povera is a tradition that spans across most of Europe. From the Neapolitan soffritto to British black pudding, some of the world’s most iconic dishes derive from the need to use readily available resources effectively. Over time, these cunning recipes have become a part of our identity and culture. So, given this proud part of our history, why are we not extending the same creativity to efficient power generation?
Here Nigel Thompson, Sales Manager at Finning UK and Ireland, explains the benefits of adopting Combined Heat and Power (CHP).
When operating a continuous generator, CHP is an energy efficient solution for heating. CHP captures heat produced during power generation and uses it in conjunction with or instead of traditional boiler setups.
This helps the generator reach more than 80% efficiency, whereas coal and gas-fired plants struggle to achieve more than 40%. In other words, CHP is an effective way for businesses to cut their bills by capitalising on energy already present in their buildings.
As well as being a more affordable source of heating, CHP can reduce carbon dioxide, nitrogen oxide and sulphur dioxide emissions. While CHP still produces the first two of these pollutants, businesses adopting CHP will reduce emissions by at least 20%.
The overall cuts in costs and pollution will depend on how long the CHP system will be in operation; CHP systems represent a substantial investment, but offer an excellent rate of return.
Due to its ability to reduce costs and emissions, CHP is used in numerous manufacturing industries, including food and pharmaceuticals. Some industries are yet to widely adopt CHP but could benefit from the technology - it has great potential to improve energy efficiency in healthcare infrastructure, for example, a sector looking to make the most out of limited investments.
For example, Finning collaborated with Octagon Healthcare to supply a Cat G3516 lean burn gas engine to the Norfolk and Norwich Hospital. The CHP system acts as lead boiler, recovering 1314kW worth of heat from the engine exhaust, jacket water and oil cooler circuits and returning medium-pressure hot water for immediate use.
In periods of low thermal demand, the CHP system can still run, providing cheaper power than importing from the grid.
When businesses generate both electricity and heat using the same method, it becomes essential to take good care of the investment. CHP systems should be installed on reliable and regularly maintained generators, ensuring the highest standard of safety for operators.
For example, sending fuel samples to a dedicated fluid analysis lab, to receive reports with updates on generator condition and receive advice on best practice to minimise wear. Another way to improve generator lifespan is to make use of equipment an equipment overhaul service. These facilities can significantly extend the life cycle of a generator, maximising the benefits of a customer’s investment in CHP.
Future development for CHP would include incorporating high capacity energy storage, to provide resilience and power security. Combining gas CHP and microgrids offers a high level of efficiency and net carbon reduction, a considerable stepping- stone towards the UK’s commitment to net zero by 2050.
While your grandmother may be able to make a three course meal out of whatever is left in your fridge, you might want to get an expert in to make a boiler from your generator’s heat. CHP systems effectively use a side-effect of power generation to bring cost effective and environmentally conscious heating to businesses.