Press | Published on 1st Mar 2017

What’s the future for micro CHP?

It’s tough to get customers to adopt innovations- and it’s getting harder all the time. Markets resist new ideas and products and accept the rest only grudgingly. For instance, television took more than three decades to become a mass medium!

Innovators and manufacturers of ‘new’ products accept that it takes time to bring new technologies to market. The microCHP industry are no different.

Micro combined heat and power units (MicroCHP) are not only in keeping with the UK’s carbon reduction targets, they could provide much needed support to our energy grid, whilst also meeting the expectations of consumers for products to ‘do more’.

The recent Feed in Tariff review by Government, was crucial for the future of microCHP technology. So when the news broke that there would be continued support for the technology, manufacturers received the vote of confidence that they needed to invest. The scheme finishes in 2019 but it gives manufacturers a further opportunity to review their technology and strategy, to deliver a product that meets demand. During the consultation it was refreshing to see that the government department responsible for the Feed in Tariff took the opportunity to visit manufacturers to see first-hand micro CHP products on the production lines and the latest developments and investment that are being made.

Winning technology

If we completed a survey with consumers and asked the question; would you like a boiler that provides heat and electricity simultaneously, from the same energy source? I’m pretty confident the answer would be a positive one. 

If we asked government and the electricity suppliers; is there any advantage in people producing electricity in their homes to reduce the load on the grid at peak times? then this would also get a yes vote.

The future for microCHP

As heating accounts for 65% of all domestic energy use we need to reduce emissions and the amount of energy being consumed. The best way to do this is through the deployment of energy efficiency technologies. These however need to be practical, affordable and realistic and must be developed with the energy trilemma in mind.

Over the years, technological innovation has provided us with some incredible advancement in our everyday lives. From transport to mobile phones; progression in technology has changed the way we live beyond recognition.

The condensing boiler delivered major advancements in the heating industry delivering; energy savings, creating high levels of home comfort and instant supply of hot water. It does all this at a competitive price whilst being extremely reliable. Consumers and installers are ‘on board’ with condensing technology. They are familiar with it, they trust it, it has a reputation and proven deliverables, and so any new addition to the suite of home heating options available has a challenge before it has even started.

In the commercial market the larger Combined Heat and Power units (CHP) have some proven success. Commercial applications have a high demand for gas and the running times of the CHP units are much longer, so more electricity is produced, compared to domestic heating and therefore the pay back is faster. The domestic micro CHP has a relatively low gas usage which makes the pay back longer.

With and aim to create a path to mass production for microCHP the ene.field project brings together twenty seven partners, including 10 European manufacturers who will make their products available across 11 European countries. The project will allow up to 1,000 households across Europe to experience the benefits of this new energy solution.

The main objective being; ‘ learning the practical implications of installing, operating and supporting a fleet of fuel cells with real world customers, ene.field will demonstrate the environmental and economic imperative of micro FC-CHP, and lay the foundations for market exploitation.’

The project will then make recommendations on the most appropriate policy mechanisms to support the commercialisation of domestic micro-CHP across Europe.

Will gas installers be connecting a heating appliance that has an electrical connection and contributes to the household demand for electrical power in the near future? We will keep you updated.