What Are CHP Systems/CCHP Systems?

Combined Heat & Power Systems (CHP systems), or Combined Cooling, Heat & Power systems (CCHP Systems) are on-site electricity generation systems that utilize the heat that would otherwise be wasted to provide useful thermal energy in the form of hot water, chilled water or steam which can be used for space heating, cooling, domestic hot water and industrial processes. These systems allow facilities to create their own microgrids that can function autonomously when power from the electric grid is lost.

Flow diagram showing use of Fuel and Water in CHP process

  • Highly efficient system to provide power & heat with a single fuel input source (generally natural gas)
  • Recovered heat (by-product of fuel combustion) used for cooling or heating makes CHP systems typically achieve 60/% to 80% in efficiency
  • CHP Developers design systems to produce both electricity and heat on-site through their own microgrid, instead of separately obtaining electricity from the power grid and producing heat from a boiler in a Separate Heat Power (SHP) configuration

What does CHP mean?

CHP is short for Combined Heat & Power. It has also been called many other names over the years. While there are some subtle differences, CHP is also known as Cogeneration, Trigeneration, or Combined Cooling Heat and Power systems (CCHP systems) and can often be used to set up a microgrid configuration. Experienced CHP developers can walk you through the subtle differences when designing a custom CHP system for your facility’s unique needs.

How does CHP work?

CHP developers design a system in which a fuel, typically natural gas or a biogas, is brought into a prime mover such as an engine, turbine or microturbine. The prime mover generates electricity that goes to serve the loads of the facility through its own microgrid system, and any excess electricity can be sent back onto the public electric grid. Thermal energy generated from the prime mover while making the electricity is captured to produce hot water or steam. The hot water or steam can then be directly used for facility heating, serving process loads or heating domestic hot water. It can also be used by an absorption chiller to generate chilled water. This chilled water can serve facility cooling or process loads. By producing chilled water, the CHP system also serves to reduce electricity required by electric cooling equipment.

Flow chart depicting the steps in the process of CHP and how it works

The infographic below explains how CHP works, and how it differs from your current system.

Infographic describing what CHP is and how it works