Are CHP plants commissioned more than three years ago delivering the benefits they could be?

A survey from Enel X shows nearly 80% of CHP plants were commissioned more than three years ago, exposing an opportunity for increased efficiency and revenue generation

Big Zero Report 2022

Are combined heat and power (CHP) plants commissioned more than three years ago delivering the benefits they could be?

Following a recent industry survey conducted by Energy Live News on behalf of Enel X, the findings indicate that older CHPs that were optimised when first commissioned, may not be delivering the benefits they could be based on current usage. Wayne Davies, Head of Customer Success for Enel X UK, spoke to ELN about what this could mean for CHP operators.

“One result from that survey that made us sit up and think was the percentage of CHP plants commissioned three or more years ago – 79% were this age or older.”

“This predates the Targeted Charging Review (TCR), the Medium Combustion Plant Directive and social issues such as Brexit and coronavirus, all of which have had an effect on how CHPs are run. Anyone who commissioned their CHP unit more than three years ago, has to ask themselves if they are maximising the return on their investment.”

He stressed the need for many of these businesses to re-evaluate their options, adding that although a lot of customers manage their CHPs well, they are not aware of the value in bringing together all of the benefits offered, such as optimisation and access to the capacity market, the balancing mechanism and wholesale trading.

A closer look at the survey results appear to support this case:

  • Almost a fifth of survey participants claimed to be dissatisfied with the results of their CHP
  • 31% were unsure if the technology meets their expectations or not
  • A third of users claimed their CHP units were designed based on their past needs

The bottom line is that customers will have seen their energy needs change over the past three years. On these grounds, Enel X, with products such as GEO, is working to help its clients explore other options and maximise the benefits, such as additional revenue, that are made possible by CHP infrastructure.

Wayne Davies, Enel X

We asked Wayne what sort of revenue clients could expect from optimisation of their CHP and enrolling it in relevant energy programmes.

What size CHP does this apply to? How much can I earn? How soon can I earn it? How sure are you this will work? These are the most common questions that our customers ask when discussing the optimisation potential of their assets. So, I cover these in order:

What size CHP does this apply to? This depends a lot on what the CHP is currently serving. The biggest opportunity is with larger CHPs, greater than 1MW, typically with some headroom. This does not mean that they have to have spare capacity 24/7, its enough to have it at certain points of the day. This goes hand in hand with an ability to export to be able to generate the best revenues.

How much can I earn? Again this is dependent on multiple data points which we evaluate such as the capacity, current running of the asset, running times and export ability. You must also take into consideration any constraints that the CHP operator may have around fixed operating schedules. In general, Enel X customers see savings between 5% and 15% from our optimisation and trading. With access to the balancing mechanism to trade, under the right circumstances we are seeing figures between £22,500 and £40,000 per MW traded.

How soon can I earn it? Well, to be blunt, straight away! At least with the optimisation aspect. To earn revenue from trading in the balancing mechanism and other programmes the asset needs to be registered and enrolled first but again we expect clients to be earning shortly afterwards.

How sure are you this will work? Enel X has been generating revenue for our customers across all types of asset, including CHP’s, globally for many years. Our software combines Enel X’s ability to earn revenues in all markets and our in-depth knowledge of the optimisation of CHPs to make this a solution that our customers can have total confidence in.”

Enel X’s GEO offering is an integrated solution that optimises the operational schedule of a wide range of assets including turbines, engines and steam boilers. GEO enables operators to maximise the flexible capacity of their CHP plant while meeting site needs in the most economical way.

The software package aims to improve system efficiency and maximise the value of the plant using optimisation and dispatch platforms.

Watch an ‘on-demand’ webinar with Enel X right here to learn more about how GEO enables users to meet site demands in the most economical way by creating cost savings and maximising the revenue potential derived from trading flexible CHP capacity on the energy markets.

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