Recently there has been a discussion of the fact that the UK is headed toward a power problem in a major way. They are scheduled to shut down a load of coal and nuclear plant, but have not got any real plans to replace them. The wind farms are just not going to cut it when things get cold.
Well, here, IMHO, is a modest solution:
Vaillant and Honda Present Micro-Combined Heat and Power System for Home Use
Micro combined heat and power (mCHP): environment-friendly generation of heat and electricity
• First mCHP system with highly efficient gas engine technology in Europe
• Partners bundle their long term expertise in combined heat and power sector
• Efficient system for optimal operation in small residential buildings
Düsseldorf, Germany, February 3, 2011 – Vaillant, the heating and ventilation specialist and Honda held a joint press conference to present a new micro-combined heat and power (mCHP) system for Europe. It is the first European system with highly efficient gas engine technology for use in single-family homes. The mCHP system simultaneously produces environment-friendly heat and electricity and will be available in Germany by mid-year under the product name Vaillant ecoPOWER 1.0.
Decentralised cogeneration produces electricity and heat in the home where it is consumed. This differs from electricity generation in conventional power stations where up to 60 per cent of the energy is wasted due to heat loss. This makes CHP especially efficient; conventional CHP systems achieve efficiency of up to 90 per cent. The Honda mCHP unit, the harmonised system components, and the smart energy management help the ecoPower 1.0 systems to deliver an outstanding overall efficiency of 92 per cent.
Using Honda’s long experience in the Japanese market, a new mCHP unit for the German market was developed. The compact module produces 1 kW electrical and 2.5 kW thermal output. The electrical efficiency as an indicator of the economical operation of the micro-CHP unit exceeds 26.3 per cent, outperforming all comparable micro-CHP systems in the lower output range. The ecoPOWER 1.0 can supply up to 70 per cent of the electricity needed by an average family house each year. Aside from a Honda mCHP module and a heat recovery module, the system also consists of a 300-litre multi-function storage cylinder and a wall-hung gas-fired condensing boiler for peak loads and system controls. The output of the peak-load heating appliance is variable and depends on the need for heat of the respective property.
I’ve measured my home and it’s about 1 kw continuous. I could power it from one of these alone with a battery and inverter “buffer” on the major surge demand appliances.
During power emergencies, I would expect the UK to continue to “prioritize” natural gas to homes (as they did this last winter with blackouts from failed generation as gas was shunted to homes to keep warm) so users of this appliance ought to stay first on the feeding line. BUT you will get both electricity AND heat from it. Nice.
No idea what the cost is, nor how you would
smuggle import one from Germany to England, but hey, that’s what large trunks are for ;-)
You might need to change your plugs, though ;-)
Looks nice, too:
There’s a wiki that looks a little out of date, but presents some other options too:
It is estimated that about 1,000 micro-CHP systems were in operation in the UK as of 2002. These are primarily “Whispergen” Stirling engines, and Senertec Dachs reciprocating engines. The market is supported by the government through regulatory work, and some government research money expended through the Energy Saving Trust and Carbon Trust, which are public bodies supporting energy efficiency in the UK. Effective as of 7 April 2005, the UK government has cut the VAT from 17.5% to 5% for micro-CHP systems, in order to support demand for this emerging technology at the expense of existing, less environmentally friendly technology. The reduction in VAT is effectively a 10.63% subsidy for micro-CHP units over conventional systems, which will help micro-CHP units become more cost competitive, and ultimately drive micro-CHP sales in the UK. Of the 24 million households in the UK, as many as 14 to 18 million are thought to be suitable for micro-CHP units. A factory in Horsham UK for the production of SOFC based micro-CHP units is expected to start low-volume production in the second half of 2009.