Where should I locate my CHP system?

Answer by Dale Blundell (Atkins)

There are many factors that will influence the positioning of a CHP system:

  • The scale of the equipment to be installed, including space requirements for routine maintenance and the replacement of large components.
  • The CHP should ideally be located close to the hydraulic and electrical interfaces so as to minimise the installation costs.
  • Access for delivering the plant needs to be considered, both for haulage and manoeuvring the plant into its final position. In some cases this may involve temporarily removing existing plant, infrastructure or equipment.
  • If there is insufficient space internally, then an external location is an option. Additional considerations then include issues such as security, safety, visual amenity, weather & physical protection.
  • If contemplating a rooftop location, consideration should be given to how maintenance personnel will gain safe access when carrying tools, spares or heavy containers of lubricants.
  • Safe routing of the fuel supply pipework route, and positions of meters and safety systems.
  • The CHP exhaust flue will need to be routed to discharge at a suitable point. If routed externally, the visual amenity of this will need to be checked.
  • Heat rejection equipment such as air blast coolers take up considerable space compared to cooling towers. In addition, mechanical & electrical services will need to be routed to connect to the heat rejection equipment. Cooling towers require close operational management and robust maintenance to avoid the risk of Legionella disease.
  • Storage is a key issue for biomass both in terms of space requirements, location near to the biomass plant and access for deliveries. The fill point for biofuels may be located more conveniently by the use of a distribution pipe to the storage tank.
  • Most prime movers are noisy. Many small to medium scale systems are therefore installed within attenuated enclosures or containers.  For large systems, attenuated plant/engine rooms may need to be constructed.
  • As prime movers emit considerable heat, ventilation needs to be considered when they are installed in enclosures.
  • As CHP units are rotating machinery, they have inherent vibration characteristics. Most CHP skids are mounted on anti-vibration mounts, but where the site is sensitive to vibration, then additional anti-vibration measures may need to be employed.