CHP is term you will hear more and more about and I don’t mean California Highway Patrol. It’s micro Combined Heat and Power which is still also known as cogeneration. The concept is no-brainer. If you use a fuel to create electricity, a lot of heat (and other harmful crap) goes up smokestack and is wasted. Why not put it to good use?
The idea has been around for decades in the form of cogeneration and is especially popular in Europe with European utilities. And how to you think many of the Manhattan high rises are heated? ConEdison cogeneration power plants generating steam. This has been a common practice for years in big cities.
Now micro CHP (I’m not quite sure why and if cogeneration has fallen out of favor) is gaining popularity in home basements to capture what is known as “waste heat” or “secondary heat”, or “low-grade heat. (source: Wikipedia)” I’ve thought for years that it’s awfully cozy in my basement when it needn’t be.
There are several micro-CHP solutions which often uses natural gas to produce both heat and power (CHP is a more descriptive than cogeneration which sounds utility-ish). I sat next to a electrical engineer yesterday at the Lux Executive Summit yesterday in Cambridge, Mass. who researched technologies for large generator manufacturer and CHP was high on his list. It is also a technology embraced by universities and students.
According to a Christian Science Monitor article in 2006, 30,000 Japanese homes had installed micro CHP systems and 80,000 systems were on order in New Zealand. One of the systems most talked about in the U.S. uses a Honda generator to produce electricity. That in turn is paired with a furnace or boiler and Climate Energy LLC. Together, the micro CHP system is called the freewatt system. It boast 80% efficiency and reduced emissions from a conventional furnace.
Most articles claim a micro-CHP system is about twice as expensive as a high efficiency furnace. There’s several blogs on it including the microchap as well as books for engineers, scientists and consumers.