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Looking to the Future: CHP, Heat Pumps & Best Use of Natural Gas & Biomass fuels
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Looking to the Future: CHP, Heat Pumps & Best Use of Natural Gas & Biomass fuels

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CIBSE Technical Symposium, DeMontfort University, Leicester UK
6th and 7th September 2011


‘Gas fired CHP is just a transition technology’
‘the big challenge is decarbonising the grid’
’heat pumps are the future for building heating’

These are three common current statements discussed by engineers, environmentalists and policy makers. The author is in favour of a holistic approach to energy policy in place of segregation by energy source, utility or technology sector. This paper outlines the strengths and weaknesses of CHP and heat pump systems based on measured data on systems installed in the UK. It also reviews the efficiency in distributing different forms of energy in, electrical, district heating and gas utility networks. From this it attempts to make a logical argument as to where different systems should be used to make best use of future limited resources. This leads to a prediction for an alternative future for gas fired CHP and heat pumps where a co-ordinated energy policy leads to the joint decarbonising of gas and electricity networks. It is argued that the best use of a limited biomass resource is large scale regional gasification, with syngas or bio-methane transmitted through existing gas infrastructure to urban load centres. Within urban centres it can be efficiently utilised using CHP and district heating systems transmitting energy locally with minimal losses. This future also complements and supports other emerging Biogas sources such as anaerobic or sewage sludge digestion. It demonstrates how heat pumps form part of this alternative future and how the use of them complements CHP systems. All systems are considered within the context of local, regional, UK and European policy and current engineering practice. It finishes by making some suggestions of future technical and policy research that would inform the low carbon energy debate and support a low carbon future.

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