Reducing peak demand is pretty tricky. Try telling your kids they can neither be fed hot food nor watch TV between 4 and 7pm (telling them they can’t do the washing or hovering either might be an easier task).
So, discounting, for now, peak charging and large-scale behavioural change, if we’re stuck with peak, we need to take strain off the Grid in other ways. We need to generate at peak. And ‘we’ means everyone.
That’s the vision for every microgeneration technology – 100% adoption creating a nation of generators. Usually, that’s a pipe dream. How to encourage every household to make the discretionary purchase that most microgeneration technology is? But with microCHP technology, Combined Heat and Power, the vision of that entire nation of generators isn’t an impossibility.
MicroCHP technology comes in a few different forms but the most user-friendly is a domestic gas boiler that heats your home and generates low-cost, low-carbon electricity at the same time. Since homes are usually heated at peak, a microCHP boiler generates most of its electricity at peak.
A boiler, of course, isn’t a discretionary purchase. When you need one, you really need one. And if, when you need one, you could be offered one that generates electricity, cutting your home energy bills by up to 50% and your household emissions by up to 20%, the only real reason to say ‘No’ might be price.
MicroCHP technology has always been expensive. But recent advances in technology have brought the price of certain forms of the tech right down, with further falls predicted for the remainder of this year and into 2016, resulting in a product not much more expensive than a standard boiler but with the ability to produce a significant return in the value of the electricity it generates (plus a dedicated Feed-in Tariff for microCHP).
Theoretically, this could change the UK energy industry forever. With millions of microCHP boilers installed, all generating at peak, the need for new central generation would be significantly reduced. By some estimates, 500,000 microCHP boilers would generate the equivalent output of a large power station. So while peak demand from consumers stays the same (TV, tea, toast), peak demand on the Grid dramatically reduces (microCHP). It’s a potentially incredibly exciting part of the future of energy.