As the UK strives to achieve its ambitious carbon emission targets, it becomes imperative to transform the way we generate the electricity to power, heat, or cool our buildings. Conventional electricity supply in the UK is only 30% efficient. The Mayor of London, in support of low carbon generation technologies, has set a target for 25% of London’s heat and power requirements to be generated from local, decentralised energy systems by 2025. London’s response to Climate Change
Decentralise energy systems generate power at the point of use, thus reducing waste and emissions by using the primary energy more efficiently and utilising the heat generated that would have otherwise been wasted in a conventional process. A combined heat and power (CHP) plant is one example of a decentralised energy system that captures and makes better use of the heat [by-product of electricity generation]. It is 80% efficient compared to conventional plants.
A CCCA site visit to the Kings Cross energy centre in March 2018 took us to one of the largest CHP plants around. The on-site plant contains two CHP units that meet approximately 99% and 79% of the estate’s total heat and power demand respectively; thereby enhancing both energy efficiency and sustainability in the area. Electricity is generated using two 1.4 MG gas powered engines. The waste heat produced in the process is captured and used to provide hot water and heating for the buildings rather than releasing it into the atmosphere as would be the case with a conventional system. This effectively eliminates the need for each building to have its own boiler(s) and heating systems.
The CHP plant also helps to meet the cooling requirements for the office buildings in the estate. In this case, the chillers absorb and use the waste heat as energy to run the cooling system. This is by far a more energy efficient way of meeting the cooling, electricity, heating, and hot water demands of the estate as compared to the conventional systems. Overall, the estate has been able to save over 45% of its carbon emissions and helped to save on fuel bills for the residents and offices within the area.
Similar CHP projects have been introduced in different areas within Camden, with the aim of generating low-carbon electricity within the area while contributing to reducing borough wide emissions by 40% by 2020. See decentralised energy in Camden for more information
More CHP systems are needed in place of conventional plants if London’s energy efficiency and sustainability targets are to be met by 2025.
Peris Njorge, Sustainability Trainee, CCCA