The majority of energy currently used is produced by the burning of fossil fuels. This pollutes the atmosphere, contributing to global warming, air pollution and acid rain. Consequently any measures that can be adopted for reducing this are encouraged. The use of more efficient measures in the production of energy is also beneficial in that the same amount of energy can be produced for less fuel, for example, Gas-fired power stations are more fuel-efficient and less polluting than coal and oil power stations at generating electricity. Though in most conventional power stations, only 30-50% of the energy consumed is converted to electricity.
Combined Heat and Power (CHP) reuses waste heat produced during electricity generation, and can reduce the amount of fuel required by a power plant.
Combined Heat & Power
The fuel efficiency of an industrial CHP plant can be more than 80%, and losses from electricity transmission and distribution are minimised by locating CHP plants at the site where the electricity is needed. This is due to the fact that during electricity generation, a large amount of low-grade heat is produced as a by-product. In conventional power stations this heat is lost. In combined heat and power (CHP) systems the heat produced during electricity generation is recycled rather than wasted, thereby increasing the efficiency of the system. CHP is usually only used as a supplement to grid mains electricity supply.
High capital and maintenance costs deter individual users from investing in CHP, and are therefore more likely to be used by the public, industrial and commercial sector. The main markets tend to be those requiring a great deal of heat, for example leisure centres, hospitals and industrial sites and processes. Sewage treatment works sometimes use CHP fuelled by biogas, which are emissions released during the decomposition of sewage.
The advantages of CHP are:
- The increased fuel efficiency
- Reduction in carbon dioxide emissions (up to 50%)
- Reduction of acid rain by reduction of emissions of sulphur dioxide and nitrogen oxides.
The UK Government is promoting CHP though it currently only provides about 4% of the UK's electricity.
Through the use of simple measures, a reduction in energy consumption can be effected. This will result in the reduction in the need for energy production and reduced fuel bills.
There measures including:
- Use of energy saving light bulbs
- draught proofing doors
- increasing insulation of lofts
- external wall insulation
- fitting of a hot water jacket to the water tank
- having showers instead of baths
- not placing a fridge/freezer next to the cooker
- lowering the temperature setting of the central heating
- fitting of double-glazing.
Additional information on conserving energy and a background to the subject can be found at the Energy Trust website at the link below.