Blog, Energy, Facilities Management, Mechanical & Electrical (M&E)

What are Heat Pumps, CHP and Biomass Systems?

Heat pumps, biomass and combined heat and power (CHP) systems are often talked about in the news, especially in relation to rising energy prices and the 'cost of living crisis'. But what are they and what do they do?

There are many technology options for individual heating, cooling and ventilation components and they can all vary in application, cost and efficiency. Heat pumps, biomass and combined heat and power (CHP) systems are three technologies often regarded as ‘green’ and ‘sustainable’. 

Heat pump

Heat Pumps

In both business and residential contexts, heat pumps are frequently used to provide both heating and cooling. They can be powered by gas or electricity, but electricity is more frequently used. Heat pumps convert energy from low-temperature sources such as ground heat, water, ambient air, or waste heat to higher temperatures that are more usable (the reverse cycle if cooling is required).

Compared to the overall energy transferred, the energy needed to convey heat is quite minimal. Therefore, heat pumps can offer a low-carbon, energy-efficient method of heating. For these reasons, certain installations are eligible for the Renewable Heat Incentive.

Biomass heating

Biomass Systems

Systems made expressly for burning solid biomass fuels to heat water, air, or produce steam are known as biomass systems. They produce heat that can be moved to the needed area or processed by convection and radiation. By using a heat exchanger, biomass systems can also heat water for home or space heating.

Several important factors need to be taken into account when setting up and running a biomass system. The availability of a thermal base load throughout the year, high upfront capital expenditures, sufficient space for fuel supplies and storage, room for large plants and associated systems, and comparably larger operations and maintenance obligations are a few of these factors.

Significantly lower carbon emissions and revenue from the Renewable Heat Incentive are two important advantages.

combined heat and power CHP

Combined Heat and Power (CHP)

The simultaneous production of useful heat and power in a single process is known as combined heat and power (CHP) or cogeneration. On-site electricity production is combined with waste heat recovery and utilisation. In order to be cost-effective, CHP systems typically need over 4,500 operating hours per year and a base heat demand that is quite strong and stable throughout the year. Utilizing the electricity produced to meet site needs and reducing grid purchases can result in significant financial savings.

To lower initial capital expenditures and prevent situations where waste heat or power needs to be “dumped,” system size is essential. For the majority of systems, natural gas is used to power reciprocating engines, much like those seen in cars. The waste heat is often captured by a water jacket surrounding the engine.

Lightbulbs energy measure

Energy – If You Can’t Measure it, You Can’t Manage it!

Before you embark on a major project to reduce energy consumption, do you know where you currently use energy? That is the vital starting point, as RFM’s Client Services Director Mark Flanagan explains.

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