Combined heat and power (CHP) systems generate electricity along with capturing the usable heat produced during the process. Micro combined heat & power (MCHP) systems run on renewable and non-renewable fuels such as coal, natural gas, biomass, wood, waste heat, and oil. Heat produced during electricity generation is captured and used for heating applications, thus increasing the overall efficiency of the system by avoiding heat loss. Micro-cogeneration, also called micro combined heat and power or residential cogeneration, is an emerging technology with the potential to provide energy-efficient systems and environmental benefits by minimizing energy loss and greenhouse gas emission (GGE). Wide-scale adoption of MCHP can meet a number of energy and social policy aims such as reduction of greenhouse gas emission from energy supply, increase in decentralization of energy supply, improvement in energy security, and energy loss from electricity transmission and distribution networks, and possible decrease in energy cost to consumers.
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Micro-cogeneration systems have the potential to reduce energy demands of the residential sector for space heating, domestic hot water heating, and electricity. Furthermore, reduction in greenhouse gas emission and curtailment in reliance on central electricity generation, transmission, and distribution systems are the possible benefits. In this article, a comparison has been made between MCHP technology and other technologies such as prime mover, electrical and thermal power, efficiency and emissions.
MCHPs are used as heating and electricity generation systems in residential and small commercial buildings and are ideal for buildings that have heat sinks such as swimming pools. MCHPs are primarily used in household and wastewater treatment, small office buildings, colleges, universities, and military bases. The micro combined heat & power market is in its nascent stage in majority of the regions across the world; however, adoption of MCHP in the emerging markets is expected to grow at a significant rate in the next few years. Factors contributing to its growth are supportive government policies, lower electricity costs, reduced greenhouse gas emissions, and availability of technologically advanced engines.
Government institutions across the globe are introducing new policies and providing feed-in-tariffs to boost the usage of CHP systems. Rise in awareness regarding energy efficiency and benefits of CHPs are expected to boost the market for micro, small-scale, and large-scale CHP systems. Additionally, rise in focus toward renewable energy sources is anticipated to surge the consumption of fuels such as wood, biomass, and waste heat in MCHP systems. Thus, increase in price of energy, coupled with strict regulations regarding energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions, has resulted in a surge in demand for MCHP systems. The best economics for CHP systems is found in cold climates, wherein there exist high electricity rates, low natural gas prices, and continuous requirement of heat. The only restraint to the micro combined heat & power market is the limitations in its usage in industrial applications.
Based on technology, the micro combined heat & power market can be segregated into rankine cycle engine, stirling engine, proton exchange membrane fuel cell (PEMFC), internal combustion engine (ICE), and solid oxide fuel cell (SOFC). In terms application, the micro combined heat & power market can be segmented into residential and commercial. Requirement of space heating in cold regions and space cooling in hot regions is projected to drive the market for CHP systems for residential and commercial applications.
Europe is expected to dominate the MCHP installation market owing to the strong CHP network and the awareness regarding energy efficiency of MCHP systems. Asia Pacific is estimated to become a rapidly developing market for MCHP in the near future. North America and Asia Pacific offer numerous opportunities for the growth of the CHP installation market as the demand for energy-efficient technologies is high in these regions. Usage of MCHP in residential applications in the U.S. is not very popular at present, and therefore, the market holds an insignificant share. However, the micro combined heat & power market is projected to expand at a faster pace than the large-scale CHP systems in the next few years.
SAsia Pacific is the next leading global market regarding investments in MCHPs, following Europe. In Asia Pacific, China, Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan are the major markets for micro combined heat & power. China, the leading CHP market, is followed by Japan and South Korea. Rapid economic growth of countries such as China and India is expected to attract further investments in MCHP, thereby boosting the micro combined heat & power market in the region. In Japan, there is high demand for micro-scale CHP systems due to their usage in residential applications.
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Prominent manufacturers and suppliers of micro combined heat & power include BDR Thermea, Yanmar Co. Ltd., and Honda Power.