Project studies feasibility of decarbonised energy with CHP

ENER-G is taking part in a project that aims to find new ways of maintaining and decarbonising energy supplies in line with increased demand.

ENER-G and industry partners Advanced Digital Institute, Flexitricity, Smarter Grid Solutions and UK Power Networks, have secured £100,000 of match funding from the Technology Strategy Board towards exploring the development of next-generation Virtual Power Plants.

According to a statement, this involves using clusters of combined heat and power (CHP) systems to bolster supply, particularly to meet peaks in demand.

The project will investigate the feasibility of using networks of small ENER-G CHP generators, which are said to have the flexibility and high-energy efficiency to provide reinforcement of supply to the local network.

This Virtual Power Plant system requires complex software and a central control system to ensure that it reacts immediately to local supply-and-demand requirements.

By including a large number of smaller-scale CHP generators and associated loads into a Virtual Power Plant, the aim is to achieve improved flexibility and greater load-balancing potential to reduce stress on the network.

The project will perform business and technical modelling based on data from UK Power Networks’ London electricity network, using ENER-G CHP systems to relieve the peaks in demand.

It will address the twin challenges of increasing demand, such as the move to electric cars, the growth of cities and rising summer temperatures, together with the UK’s commitment to reducing carbon emissions. Addressing these challenges is forecast to save the UK £8bn by 2020.

The project will also address how to maximise the potential for distributed heat and cooling through CHP, examining district heating, heat stores and technologies such as absorption chillers.

CHP — the simultaneous generation of electricity and useful heat — is claimed to be around 90 per cent efficient for on-site energy consumption and is around as twice as efficient as conventional power generation, where the generated heat is wasted and further losses of approximately seven per cent occur in transporting the electricity from remote power stations to end users.

The consortium believes its solution could make an important contribution to the global market for Virtual Power Plants, which, according to Pike Research, could reach $12.7bn by 2015.

The feasibility study is scheduled to be completed in May 2013.