Dear England, Power To You

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:

Honda Cogen Products

Honda Cogen Products

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.

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About E.M.Smith

A technical managerial sort interested in things from Stonehenge to computer science. My present "hot buttons' are the mythology of Climate Change and ancient metrology; but things change...
This entry was posted in Economics - Trading - and Money, Emergency Preparation and Risks, Political Current Events and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

19 Responses to Dear England, Power To You

  1. Brian H says:

    But but but it’s not zero CO2 like those pretty wind turbines!

    ~~ ;pPpP ~~

  2. bulaman says:

    Back in the day the US company I work with was heavily involved in developing a Stirling engine to generate electricity from wood waste. The energy budget (using gas for water and hob) was 6 kw for a dwelling per day. The engine was like a Subaru with opposing cylinders and could be scaled by adding extra cylinder pairs. . A patent dispute ended up costing the US company about $15 million. I think they had built 150 proof units when it fell apart. The annual biomass was something like 5 tonnes of firewood per annum to power/heat your house plus gas.

  3. R. Shearer says:

    I like it!

    England and Germany use the same outlet, so no need to smuggle the power cord.

  4. Hal says:

    “England and Germany use the same outlet”

    same power 220V, 50 Hz
    different plugs
    UK #300
    Europe #400

    Above link sells adapters

  5. RK says:

    “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 ;-)”

    Smuggling skills needed are in same range as smuggling something from Oregon to California

  6. Perry says:

    I posted at WUWT:

    Andrew Bolt this morning on the radio in Melbourne this morning:
    “We chat to Jill Duggan, from the directorate-general for climate action at the European Commission, who says the opposition here to a carbon dioxide tax is ”slightly bizarre” when Europe has no problem with its own price on carbon dioxide. Really, I ask, with European unemployment at 10 per cent and growth at just 1.6 per cent? So I ask this salesman of the EU emissions trading scheme the two basic questions everyone should ask of anyone selling anything: how much does it cost, and what will it do? How many billions will Europe spend on this scheme to cut its emissions by 20 per cent by 2020, and by how much will that cut the world’s temperatures by 2100? The interview suddenly goes very pear-shaped for one of us – and is a stunning indictment of the EU’s foolishness. The question about job losses caused by Europe’s green schemes goes no better. ”

    Please listen to this show. It will inform and greatly amuse. The link to the recording is under the picture of Jill Duggan. Make it viral.

  7. R. de Haan says:

    Here is another initiative that makes use of 2.0 litr VW
    engines. It’s a grid connected system, no stand alone
    which is forbidden in Germany anyway.
    This too runs on gas.

    It’s in the German language of course but google
    translations turns out a ‘reasonable’ translation.

  8. syphax says:

    You can get a micro-CHP in the US:

    I have the hydronic “Ready” system myself- which means simply that I have a high efficiency boiler, to which I can add the generating unit easily when I get to it with my capital plan. The idea is that the generator will run pretty much continuously for the colder months, with the boiler (currently my main heating source, apart from my wood stove) kicking in as needed during cold spells.

    The economics are OK, but not amazing. Same for the net emissions savings. A good idea and a good product, if not earth-shattering.

  9. syphax says:

    Here’s another U.S. system I just learned about:

  10. Curt says:

    A former colleague of mine started a power electronics company a few years ago. His first projects focused on “green” technologies — electric vehicles, compressors for fuel cells, etc. A year ago, he asked me for advice on presenting his company, both for prospective customers and prospective investors.

    I told him that he had to be ready to switch from “green” solutions to “survivalist” solutions such as these. I’m feeling increasingly good about my advice.

    For a somewhat higher rated and higher tech solution, you might want to look at the microturbines from Bladon Jets in the UK that are being used in the new Jaguar hybrids. These are about 7″ (18cm) in diameter, and with the attached generator weigh about 80 lbs (36kg) and can produce 77kW of electrical power with 4 times the waste heat. These would be more suitable for small businesses than homes, of course. I know McDonalds has been investigating this type of CHP system for over a decade now.

  11. Paul Hanlon says:

    I’ve always been fascinated by Stirling Engines, but except for the toy ones that can work off a candle, I’ve never seen plans for one that could be built in a hobbyists workshop with say, a good quality drill-mill-lathe. Has anybody else seen some plans by any chance?

    I had this idea for a “power cabin” that would be just like a small shed that you’d see in somebody’s garden. Inside would be a wood gasifier stove, possibly self feeding with pellets, which would provide the hot water needed for the house and for the stirling engine. This would run a generator for the electricity.

    Outside, the sun side of the shed would be lined with solar thermal evacuated tubes. These are 55% efficient in converting the sunlight on them to heat, and at the head, the liquid can be 180degC, which would feed through into the water system.

    Add a large cylinder to store the water, some batteries for storage / surge protection (all inside the cabin), and I reckoned for between €4-6000 you are completely independent of the utilities. Probably a pipe dream, but definitely something I’d like to look into further.

    There’s also the Baxi Ecogen which has been around for a while.

  12. Paul Hanlon says:

    Oops, I appear to have triggered the spam filter wiith a link. My apologies.

  13. E.M.Smith says:

    @Paul Hanlon:

    No idea why… one of the mysteries of WordPress… sometimes things go off to spam-land with no reason I can see at all… At any rate, fished it out, along with some others… including freeing those from “syphax” above from ‘moderation’ where I also found a Stephen Wilde comment stuck…

  14. cementafriend says:

    you might be interested in the information on the following website Check out the links to information on the heat pump and heat exchangers.
    I found it when looking for some background on Dr (Ir) Noor Van Andel who has written the following article which was the basis of a presentation to KNMI in February. Everyone should read his assessment on climate which is based on measured data from the KNMI database and other published sources.

  15. E.M.Smith says:


    Interesting gadget… I’ll look at it more closely when I have time. My first blush, though, is to wonder just how much the heat exchanger rally matters for AC / Heat compared to the heat pump… but I need to read and think more…

    I think Noor Van Andel has it right.

  16. DirkH says:

    Standalone power generation systems are not forbidden in Germany for all i know. After all, we have caravans and yachts as well that may need a 220V AD insular grid… Modern inverters usually come with capabilities to synchronize with a running grid or, in the absence of one, build up their own. German keywords for this are “Inselnetz” and “selbstgeführte Wechselrichter” (“Insular grid” and “self-guided inverters”, resp.).

  17. E.M.Smith says:

    @Scarlet Pumpernickel:

    Hadn’t seen it, but it is interesting. (though not for the reason they intended…)

    We’ve got a darned good match of rotation artifacts and temperatures, then temperatures go “off page” and they decide “it must be CO2” instead of “maybe we’re measuring badly”…

    I do find it quite telling that the “divergence” is now happening in 1930 … Those “rewrite the past” rules are catching up to the “history was not in agreement”… so they catch the 1930’s hot spot, but the whole “1960s-70s” New Little Ice Age is turned into a minor platau in the rising tide of heatwave… Never Mind that it was snowing in the Central Valley of California and folks world wide were taking about how abnormally cold the world was being…. then it goes exponential up (and ignores that once again we’re getting snow in California where it doesn’t snow buy once in a 100 years…)

    Ah well, the rest is interesting…

    Personally, I’d say it looks like you can use either core angular momentum OR length of day as a better proxy for actual temperatures than the GISS crap.

    So, IMHO, the approach is an interesting one, it’s the ‘end game’ where they say we must be warming the world instead of ‘maybe the temps we got are crap; it’s snowing outside’ where they have blinders on…

    Perhaps this needs a little posting of it’s own…

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