Project Development, Utility Integration, Wind Power

CHP Complements Renewable Energy

An EU research contract has this week been delivered to demonstrate how combined heat and power (CHP) can solve intermittency problems of fluctuating renewable energy schemes. An international consortium of universities, research institutes and software companies has been awarded a large grant under the EU’s sixth Research Framework Programme to work in a number of EU countries, including the UK.

The University of Birmingham will work with engineering company PB Power to demonstrate the Danish-inspired technique to integrate intermittent energy sources such as wind power into the British electricity grid. “CHP’s role as a flexible, low carbon, energy source means that is well placed to solve grid integration issues posed by a high penetration of intermittent renewable electricity sources,” said David Green, Director of the Combined Heat and Power Association. “By linking CHP and wind, the short term financial penalties suffered by some wind power schemes in today’s electricity market can be potentially remedied.” Gas-fired CHP (as practiced in Denmark), which involves simultaneous production of electricity and heat, reduces carbon dioxide emissions compared to conventional electricity production. However it can also be much more flexible in helping the electricity grid in coping with intermittent supplies of renewable energy than conventional power stations. Now a new software design is being tested. The software will allow the ‘co-production’ of electricity from wind power and CHP so as to produce an even, predictable, supply of electricity. CHP, which is designed in Denmark to have heat storage facilities, is often best designed to furnish a heat supply. It can continue to supply the heat supply through storage tanks, or, alternatively, it can supply hot water to the storage tanks when there is insufficient heat demand. As a result CHP can come on or offline according to the need to compensate for the lack, or excess, of, wind power supplies. CHP is used in industry, offices and on housing estates with community (district) heating. Advanced methods to predict changes in windspeeds will also be used. The DESIRE project will demonstrate the co-production at three sites in the UK and the project will also spread knowledge about how the technique can be developed in the UK. In addition to laying the ground work for the long term when renewable energy will supply large proportions of UK electricity, the technique can have short term financial advantages. This is because the electricity trading market penalises wind power for its intermittency, and this system can help alleviate a lot of these financial penalties. In Denmark CHP supplies around 60 per cent of electricity, and a further 20 per cent is supplied by wind power. In the UK around 5000 MW of CHP capacity supplying is installed. The Government has a target of achieving 10,000 MW of electricity from renewable energy by the year 2010. However, there has been little recent growth in CHP, and so Government targets may not be achieved. It is hoped that this project will demonstrate both the need and the way to build up capacity of CHP with heat storage facilities in the UK. In doing so the renewable energy programme can helped in the process.