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CHP has key role to play in energy sector

Energy minister Lord Hunt spoke of the importance of combined heat and power (CHP) in creating a low carbon economy, at a conference at the ICE last week.

Addressing an audience of industry leaders, politicians and academics at the Combined Heat and Power Association (CHPA) annual conference, Hunt said the energy sector is facing three major challenges − increased energy demand, finite fossil fuels and a carbon constrained world.

He said CHP is going to have a key role to play in the future of the UK’s energy needs because it is more efficient, it should save money long term and it reduces carbon emissions.

“The UK is showing great leadership in tackling climate change which is crucial as we head to the Copenhagen talks next month. Demonstrating the UK can make the shift to a low carbon future will be vital in striking an ambitious deal,” said Hunt.

He also stressed the importance of creating momentum within local authorities, saying: “If local authorities recognise the importance of CHP it could have a huge impact of the sector as a whole.”

ICE vice president Richard Coackley, who shared a platform with Hunt to open the conference, said the public need to be educated in CHP and its related aspects.

“If half of the heat lost during electricity production could be captured it would meet 25% of the UK’s heat demand, dramatically reducing energy consumption, cutting costs and carbon emissions. It could also go a long way to helping tackle heat poverty,” said Coackley.

He welcomed the recent energy National Policy Statements (NPS), however levelled concerns about their future. “The government has created a special blueprint for what society needs.

However, I am not sure people realise how important the Infrastructure Planning Committee and NPS are. I hope that a new government won’t judge them too early − they have enormous potential to create a sea change in this country.”

Representatives from other parties, including conservative shadow energy and climate change minister Greg Barker, Liberal Democrat shadow energy and climate change minister Simon Hughes and acting chairman ofthe Energy and Climate Change committee Paddy Tipping also emphasised the importance of CHP and district heating in helping secure reductions in CO2 emissions.

Director of the CHPA Graham Meeks said it was very encouraging to see the cross party support of CHP at the conference.

“Increasing vocal support in favour of the technology, from a range of prominent political figures reflects the cross party commitment to making CHP an increasingly important part of efforts to tackle climate change.”

He continued, “In a world where we have become focussed on a target to achieve 15% of our energy from renewable sources by 2020, CHP delivers a credible route to start decarbonising the remaining 85% of our economy which will still be dependent upon fossil fuels. For those parts of the economy that present particular challenges − industry, existing buildings and homes − it will be indispensible.”

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