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CHP heats up PM's climate speech

The prime minister’s green speech noted that taking the UK to a low-carbon economy can be done with the help of Combined Heat and Power (CHP).
His speech stressed there was a role for the generation of heat and electricity together, with local supply making more efficient use of scarce energy resources.

Gordon Brown, in his speech on November 19, said 'In order to meet our global greenhouse gas targets, by 2050 virtually all energy for electricity and most of the energy used for heating, cooling and transport in our country will have to come from low carbon sources.

'And because we need to replace a third of our electricity generating capacity in the next twenty years and most of the new plants will still be operating in 2050, we must start this technological transformation now.

'Meeting our target will also require greater use of renewables to heat our homes and buildings. So we will introduce new measures to bring forward renewable heat, with a call for evidence in January prior to a full consultation.

'And as we expand renewable heat we will need to ensure that, wherever feasible and economic, we generate electricity and heat together. So instead of all our energy being generated remotely, more can be supplied locally - making more efficient use of our energy resources.'

Graham Meeks, director of the Combined Heat and Power Association said:'CHP has a major part to play in this transformation, and the prime minister is right to highlight the benefits of supplying power, heat and cooling locally. Not only will this change deliver major carbon savings, it will help improve our energy security by making better use of scarce resources, whether fossil fuel or renewable.

'Renewable sources can make a massive contribution to a diversified pattern of low-carbon heat supply. For many such as biomass, waste and biogas their benefits will be optimised when used in CHP plants. We look forward to learning the government's proposals for delivering a step change in the use of these technologies'.

Heat accounts for 47% of the UK's total carbon emissions. CHP is the simultaneous generation of electricity and useful heat in a combined, efficient process. The government's target is to double UK CHP capacity to 10,000 MW by 2010.

CHP provides power, heat (and/or cooling) at the point of use. These range from microgeneration technologies operating in individual homes, to large industrial CHP schemes powering over 200 industrial schemes in the UK.

The government's latest statistics show that every 1 MW of CHP operating in the UK helps reduce carbon emissions by between 510 and 760 tonnes every year.

Current installed CHP capacity of approximately 5,440 MWe, on more than 1,500 UK sites is already delivering savings of over four million tonnes of carbon annually, one of the largest single carbon reduction measures in the government's climate change programme.

The CHPA said new power generating capacity which is not developed as a CHP plant represents a potential 'missed opportunity' for carbon savings and energy conservation. Out of all the members of the European Union the UK's current CHP capacity is the fourth lowest.

Meeks had a word of caution for the PM and the heating sector. 'The expansion of the market for CHP and heat technologies will of course bring growing pains, and we welcome the focus in the PM's speech on the need for training and capacity building. 'It is essential that the government's support for environmental industries and the proposed training initiatives bear fruit'.
20 November 2007

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