Environmental engineer stands over criticism of CHP

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One of Britain’s top environmental engineering firms has stepped up its criticism of combined heat and power and district heating systems, referring to them as ‘inefficient’ and ‘unnecessary’.

Bill Watts, Senior Partner at London-based Max Fordham, was responding to comments from Dr Tim Rotheray, Director of the Association for Decentralised Energy last week who had defended the credibility of the technology.
Bill Watts
Watts told COSPP, “Dr Rotheray (responded to my comments on) COSPP website that more energy efficient buildings ‘are not the buildings that we are building now’. But we are building those buildings now – ones that need precious little heat – and jamming them full of unnecessary heating technology.”

“Delivering the tiny amount of heat required with an inefficient system that is always on just wastes most of the energy going into the system and is expensive to the consumers who have no choice but to accept this unregulated utility.”

Referring to a recent EU study, Dr Rotheray had pointed out that 30-50% of existing need for heating can be cost effectively reduced by better building efficiency. He went on to say that the remaining half, however needs to be supplied by low cost low carbon heat and added that in dense areas, district heating is repeatedly shown to be the most cost effective solution.

However Mr Watts is unimpressed by that argument and would like the industry to be more up front from a data specific Tim Rotheray point of view.

“This is not news to this industry of course, who fail to provide any data on the costs to consumers or the CO2 emissions of their systems in use. They have free reign to pollute and charge consumers as much as they wish with no genuine competition and no governmental control.”

Watts said he would welcome an open approach to the issue where the industry could identify and detail the low carbon sources of heat that are supposed to be available over the next 10 to 30 years. By way of example he says even if an energy user is ‘lucky’ enough to live next to an incinerator, the waste may not be available in times to come and the heat is ‘certainly not zero carbon or clean.’

“Dr Rotheray is right when he says ‘there is no simplistic answer to decarbonisation’ but in London presently there is almost a mandate for the installation of CHP and DH systems in new developments, at an enormous cost. That is no answer at all.”

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