Small‐Scale Combined Heat and Power Systems: The prospects for a distributed micro‐generator in the ‘net‐zero’ transition within the UK

Geoffrey Hammond, Adam A. Titley

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Small-scale combined heat and power (micro-CHP or mCHP) plants generate heat in the process of localised electricity production that can usefully be captured and employed for domestic space and water heating. Studies of the relative merits of three alternative network-connected mCHP plants are reviewed based respectively on an Internal Combustion engine (ICE), a Stirling engine (SE), and a Fuel Cell (FC). Each plant will, in most cases, result in lower carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, relative to those from the most efficient condensing boilers. In addition, they lead to operational cost savings for the consumer, depending on house type. However, their capital costs are presently more expensive than a conventional boiler, with the FC being prohibitively so. The ICE and SE variants display the greatest economic and environmental benefit. Nevertheless, the performance and costs associated with these innovative technologies have rapidly improved over the last decade or so. Comparisons are also made with heat pumps that are seen as a major low-carbon competitor by the United Kingdom (UK) Government. Finally, the potential role of micro-CHP as part of a cluster of different micro-generators attached to contrasting dwellings is considered. The review places mCHP systems in the context of the UK transition pathway to net-zero CO2 emissions by 2050, whilst meeting residential energy demand. However, the lessons learned are applicable to many industrialised countries.
Original languageEnglish
Article number6049
Number of pages32
Issue number16
Publication statusPublished - 20 Aug 2022


  • Stirling engine
  • carbon dioxide emissions
  • combined heat and power (CHP)
  • energy efficiency
  • fuel cell
  • internal combustion engine
  • micro-CHP
  • micro-generation
  • residential sector

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • Building and Construction
  • Fuel Technology
  • Engineering (miscellaneous)
  • Energy Engineering and Power Technology
  • Energy (miscellaneous)
  • Control and Optimization
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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