If you were working anywhere close to industrial boilers, you would have surely heard the term CHP , especially if you had been in the process industries that use both extensive amounts of heat and power.
Now, what is CHP?
CHP stands for combined heat and power.
As the term suggests, it represents recovery of both heat and power from the same energy source.
Let me make it simple.
Take the case of a company using large boilers to generate steam for their process operations. Originally, these companies used their boilers solely to generate the heat required for their processes.
In many cases, it was found that by suitably amending the boiler capacity, not only can the boiler generate the amount of steam required, it can also generate a substantial amount of electricity in the process.
How is this possible?
This is possible because there is a significant amount of heat energy wasted in many thermal processes. If this wasted energy is used to run a turbine, it can result electricity generation.
This is indeed the simple concept behind CHP – fine tuning the heating operations such that wasted energy can be used to generate electricity.
The use of CHP can significantly increase the overall efficiency of boiler operations. To give you an idea: A boiler that runs only to generate power has an efficiency of about 35%, but a CHP boiler has an efficiency of about 80% – that is a big increase.
CHP is today used in a number of process industries world wide – food, chemicals, sugar & distilleries etc.
While CHP boilers are the norm now in many developed countries, I have seen that in the last few years a number of our clients in countries like India too migrating to CHP boilers. There is a reasonable amount of capital cost involved, but such an investment is still considered good as it has a decent payback period; besides, investing in a more efficient energy set up is aligned to the sustainability/sustainable energy goals of many large corporations today.