A wide variety of technologies are available to provide heating and electricity to our homes. In countries with a stable electricity grid, lighting and heating are taken for granted; but the desire for cleaner energy is highlighting how dirty grid electricity is around the world, and concerns over the future of nuclear power are adding to the debate. Many countries also have a network that distributes natural gas, and off-grid options such as heating oil or LPG are available, but when burned in conventional boilers these fuels only produce heat.
Combined heat and power (CHP) is the term used for when electricity and heat are co-produced from a single source of fuel, such as natural gas, and when done on a residential scale this is known as micro-CHP. Micro-CHP can replace or supplement grid electricity as a form of distributed generation of power in customers’ homes, and producing energy at the point of use avoids transmission losses.
This information sheet explains the key benefits that fuel cells can offer in this application, the fuel cell types used in the application today, and a case study of the Japanese Ene-Farm scheme.