The Government may increase the national target for combined heat and power plants by the end of the first decade of the next century to 12GW – nearly 25% of the UK’s present peak demand for electricity.
Labour committed itself to a target of 10GW by 2010 when in opposition, but ministers now think this may be too low. `They’re reviewing that commitment, and it could go up to 12GW,’ said a source close to the deliberations.
The Government sees the rapid expansion of the CHP sector as a key contributor in the effort to achieve a 20% cut in CO2 emissions by 2010 against 1990 levels – a commitment the prime minister reinforced in New York at the weekend.
The high efficiency of CHP units – 80% versus about 55% for the most efficient conventional generating plant – means that every 1MW of CHP cuts annual carbon emissions by 1,250 tonnes.
Deputy prime minister John Prescott is leading the initiative to promote CHP. Last week, he sent a letter to 320 companies in the engineering, chemicals, and food sectors urging them to review the potential for CHP plants for their businesses. All are big power users, which would require plants ranging from 2MW to 20MW.
The Combined Heat and Power Association and Etsu, the energy efficiency arm of AEA Technology, are providing technical support for the campaign, while both the Confederation of British Industry and the Chemical Industries Association have given it their backing.
While the sector now accounts for 3,600MW of installed capacity and is growing steadily, it is unlikely to meet even the more modest target of 5,000MW by 2000 without further Government intervention – possibly in the form of tax incentives. `We have argued that in the past, but we haven’t pressed the case with the current chancellor,’ said David Green, director of the CHPA.
* BP announced on Monday that it had won a £29m contract to build and operate a 4.8MW CHP plant that will provide steam and electricity for the Heinz factory in Harlesden, north London. The food manufacturer estimates the deal will save it £1.5m a year on its energy costs.
by Andrew Cavenagh