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A recent speech by former Environment Secretary Owen Paterson followed by an article from Telegraph columnist Christopher Booker, urged an increased role for demand management and combined heat and power to more cost-effectively deliver a low-carbon, secure energy system, while lower business energy costs.

CHP's value arises from it capturing and using heat that is otherwise wasted in cooling towers and demand response by moving demand away from times of high demand (and higher pollution) to times of lower demand.

What was curious was that the support for these technologies was linked with scrapping the Climate Change Act. But it is not the Climate Change Act that prevents us using more cost effective emissions reductions tools like CHP and demand response. It is the way we make energy policy.

In fact, the Climate Change Act should drive uptake of efficiency measures and more cost-effective carbon abatement. But instead, time and time again, the most cost-effective options for more secure, lower carbon energy are missed in favour of old, simple approaches: More centralised plant, more generation. In fact, a DECC research paper this year found a number of ways that the most cost-effective demand-side options are often missed in policy making.

And this waste of money continues to occur. Despite DECC’s analysis showing that supporting CHP would reduce consumer and taxpayer costs by millions of pounds, there is a very real risk they will not support the policy, despite a commitment to do so in the 2013 Heat Strategy.

And despite demand side response providing the most cost-effective way to provide the flexible capacity the grid needs, DECC’s designed their Capacity Market scheme around building new, expensive power plants.

Consumers are looking to Government to ensure we are achieving our goals in the most cost-effective way. We need to decarbonise and, if we are to retain the support of voters, we must do so at lowest cost.

In order to change this broken record and a long history of doing things more expensively than we need to, a new Government should rebuild taxpayer and consumer trust by committing to meet our energy policy aims for a secure, decarbonised system at best value. At the CHPA, we call this commitment a ‘Consumer Value Guarantee’.

Under the Consumer Value Guarantee, Ministers would be required to test all energy policies, as part of their Impact Assessments, against alternative demand side options. If a proposal is to build more of a particular generation technology, Ministers would have to compare the cost and benefits of doing something different, such as investing in better building efficiency, and force ministers to ask “Is this the most cost-effective way for us to meet our commitments?”

By taking a new approach, opportunities like demand response, demand reduction, heat networks, waste heat recovery and yes, CHP, will be able to compete on their respective merits and against the only metric which should matter: How we meet our commitments in the Climate Change Act for least cost.

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At Labour’s party conference in Manchester last week, the Labour Shadow Energy Secretary’s announced it would, if elected, refocus the Energy Company Obligation (ECO), ensuring at least 200,000 homes a year to benefit from whole house retrofits over the next Parliament. 

And, in support of empowering local level activity in energy, she promised to “put local authorities and communities in the driving seat” in delivering this ambition of the ECO scheme. Many welcomed this announcement as local authorities are uniquely well placed to draw together their understanding of their local communities, such as the location of the most vulnerable, planning developments and local economic strategies. 

Flint also said a Labour government would ‘make saving energy a national infrastructure priority’. This followed from an almost identical promise from the Liberal Democrats a few weeks previously. This is a key change, considering local action as part of the infrastructure debate, rather than simply large plant and power lines. Well designed, such a policy could allow energy efficiency investments to compete head-to-head with large-scale energy generation for infrastructure funding. 

The risk with the policy is too narrow a definition. Local energy infrastructure goes far beyond insulating homes, which is where ECO is focussed. We need to look both at homes and industry but at end users as part of the whole energy system, not individual islands. If we miss the system-wide perspective there are major energy-saving opportunities that may get overlooked. 

Local authorities are today investing in more efficient local generation, installing innovative heating solutions and balancing local demand to make sure we get the most out of the energy we have. By focussing locally and on the energy needs of their residents, local authorities are able to coordinate a full range of local energy efficiency measures. 

Worryingly, Labour said they will fund interest-free loans for homeowners by using £300m already earmarked for other energy efficiency programmes between 2015 and 2017. Cutting other innovative schemes to fund domestic efficiency investments is a case of robbing Peter to pay Paul. 

Instead, we should be requiring energy generation projects to prove they provide equal or greater benefits to the economy than other energy investments– be it reducing demand, efficient local generation and heat supply, or helping users to manage their power demand actively. 

The three main political parties will need to ensure ‘energy efficiency infrastructure’ includes all of these different energy saving mechanisms if we are going to most cost-effectively reduce demand and the cost of energy bills, for homes and businesses alike.

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DECC have released their energy trends special feature on combined heat and power. Here's an overview of the headlines from the year (2012-2013). 

There was a net increase of 59 schemes, taking the total to more than 2000 in the UK

Capacity remained stable with a tiny decrease of 5MWe in good quality CHP.

However the percentage of renewable fuel rose from 7% to 10% with West Midlands leading the way with a staggering 34% of total fuel used being from renewable sources! 

Natural gas now makes up 67% of fuel use (a 4% decrease.) 

The North West also had a good year with a 'noticeable growth' in combined heat and power thanks to additional capacity being built in the paper sector. The North West also lead the way in heat generation, with their share of 22%! 

Yorkshire and Humber continued to lead the pack, making up 24% of total electricity generation.

Download the full report including graphs and tables here. 


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The CHPA were delighted to play host to the Danish District Heating Association last week as they toured Europe to learn from some of the most innovative district heating projects. The delegates heard presentations from DECC who provided an overview of the policy landscape and from the CHPA who discussed their work on district heating and the Independent Heat Customer Protection Scheme.   

Islington Council provided a background on the Bunhill district heat network before taking the delegates on a tour of the site. 



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Guest blogger Ian Hopkins, Sales and Marketing Director for ENER-G Combined Power tells us how recent changes to the way in which BREEAM awards credits impacts CHP and how NOx emissions should be calculated. 

The internationally renowned Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method for non-domestic and new constructions (BREEAM) was reviewed this year with significant changes in the energy category. The changes have implications for combined heat and power (CHP) says Ian Hopkins, Sales and Marketing Director for ENER-G Combined Power.


A high BREEAM assessment score gives you, the developers, designers and building managers, a credible demonstration of the environmental performance of your commercial or industrial buildings.

The new BREEAM assessment no longer specifies a level of renewable energy sources because that is addressed specifically in the latest building regulations. Reflecting this, the number of available BREEAM credits under carbon reduction has been reduced from 15 to 12 - shifting the weighting of energy impacts in BREEAM from 19% of the entire rating to 15%.

Credit where it’s due

A building’s energy performance rating under BREEAM is now calculated using the building regulations of the country where the building is located. This replaces the notional baseline used previously regardless of the building’s UK location.

BREEAM energy performance credits are based on a building’s heating and cooling energy demand, primary energy consumption and total carbon dioxide emissions – all areas where CHP can have an impact. These are compared with the relevant national building regulations baseline to give an Energy Performance Ratio (EPR). The calculation should be determined by an accredited energy assessor using software approved under the National Calculation Methodology for the relevant country:



      Northern Ireland


Down to zero

BREEAM assessment credits for conducting feasibility studies for low and zero carbon (LZC) measures – which include CHP - fall under a new category: low carbon design. This is to ensure that a thorough review of LZC informs the building design at an early stage.

Where CHP is involved, an LZC study should include:

    Energy from the CHP.

    CHP carbon dioxide savings.

    CHP cost accounting for payback.               

    Planning criteria, including land use and noise.

    Feasibility of exporting heat/electricity.

    Any available grants.       

    All appropriate, optional energy technologies.        

    Reasons for excluding other technologies.

    Where appropriate, connecting the proposed building to an existing local community source of heat or power.

    Specifying the CHP with the potential to export excess heat or power.

A heat map for the UK is available for this. More detailed maps are often available locally.

Pollution (Pol 02) - NOx Emissions Calculation Methodology

NOx emissions are pollutant gases which are formed by the combustion fossil fuels. These gases are considered hazardous to human health and the ecosystem. For the purpose of BREEAM, NOx emissions levels are required in units -mg/kWh and measured at 0% oxygen levels on a dry basis.

For CHP technology, it is only necessary to consider the heat-related nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions towards the BREEAM pollution abatement score. The methodology determines the net NOx emissions from the CHP’s electricity generation compared with electricity generation from the grid and allocates this amount to the heat generation of the CHP, which is then compared with the benchmark scale.

Heat-related NOx in mg/kWhheat can be obtained by using the following formula:(X) = (A - B) / C


X = NOx emissions per unit of heat supplied (mg/kWhheat)

A = NOx emissions per unit of electricity generated (mg/kWhelec) by the CHP Unit

B = NOx if the full load was emissions per unit of electricity supplied from the grid - 617 (mg/kWhelec)

(Note: The Grid Electricity figure under the previous BREEAM-2011 Guide was 750 mg/kWhelec)

C = Ratio of heat to electricity output of the CHP unit

Note: Where the value of ‘X’ is calculated to be negative, it should be assumed to be zero.

The heat-related component is then compared with the scale to determine the credit score.


Calculating NOx emission levels where CHP is operating is conjunction with other heating systems, an average NOx emission rate is to be used on the ratio or power output from each of the heating source, i.e. simply multiply the emissions of each system by the percentage of heat demand it supplies and then total these values. This is usually the case at most of the sites where the CHP system has been sized to meet the base energy (electricity/heating) demand and therefore a secondary system (usually boilers) is required. The following formula can be used for such cases:

Average NOx Emission Rate = (N1 x (H1/HT)) + (N2 x (H2/HT)) +  …… + (Nn x (Hn/HT))


N1 = NOx emission rate for heat source 1

N2 = NOx emission rate for heat source 2

Nn = NOx emission rate for heat source n

HT = Total heat output from all sources

H1 = Heat Output from Source 1

H2 = Heat Output from Source 2

Hn = Heat Output from Source n

Assessment Criteria and Credit Allocations

Building Types

NOx Emissions for heating and hot water (mg/kWhheat)


Industrial (offices)



Industrial (operational)



Non-industrial (all building types)



Non-industrial (all building types)



Non-industrial (all building types)





Discover more about preparing for CHP with your free eGuide: CHP project planning: Assessing planning and regulatory issues

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