Vaillant, the heating and ventilation specialist, and Honda presented a new micro-combined heat and power (mCHP) system for Europe. It is the first European system with highly efficient gas engine technology for use in single-family homes. The mCHP system simultaneously produces heat and electricity and will be available in Germany by mid-year under the product name Vaillant ecoPOWER 1.0.
Using Honda’s long experience in the Japanese market, a new mCHP unit for the German market was developed. The compact module produces 1 kW electrical and 2.5 kW thermal output. The electrical efficiency as an indicator of the economical operation of the micro-CHP unit exceeds 26.3%, outperforming all comparable micro-CHP systems in the lower output range.
Aside from a Honda mCHP module and a heat recovery module, the system also consists of a 300-liter multi-function storage cylinder and a wall-hung gas-fired condensing boiler for peak loads and system controls. The output of the peak-load heating appliance is variable and depends on the need for heat of the respective property.
Vaillant developed all the hydraulics for the heating system and the control and connection technologies. For the management of the whole system a system regulator was designed to ensure economical and demand-based use of energy. For the first time, Honda used an Extended Expansion Linkage Engine (EXLink) in its mCHP Module, helping to significantly improve the efficiency of the unit. In Japan and the USA, Honda has offered their micro-CHP units for use in family houses since 2003.
So far, more than 100,000 of these units have been sold and installed in both countries. Honda has used the production know-how it has gained from this for the benefit of this project. Vaillant is one of the European market leaders in the CHP sector with gas engine-driven mCHP systems for cogeneration in large family houses, blocks of flats and business premises.
Decentralized cogeneration produces electricity and heat in the home where it is consumed. This differs from electricity generation in conventional power stations where up to 60% of the energy is wasted due to heat loss, the partners said. This makes CHP especially efficient; conventional CHP systems achieve efficiency of up to 90%. The Honda mCHP unit, the harmonized system components, and the smart energy management help the ecoPOWER 1.0 systems to deliver an overall efficiency of 92%.
It will also reduce the CO2-balance of the energy supply of smaller properties under ideal usage-conditions by approximately 50% compared to conventional heating systems
The German Federal Government promotes decentralised heat-power cogeneration through the CHP Act which came into effect in January 2009. The aim of this act is to increase the electricity ratio of heat-power cogeneration in Germany from current levels (around 15%) to 25% by 2020.
Excess electricity is fed back into the supply grid. Under the act, the total amount of electricity generated with the ecoPOWER 1.0 is supported with incentives over a 10-year period. Users will benefit from a CHP bonus (currently 5.11 euro cents per kilowatt hour) and will also be free from electricity tax for an unlimited period. Whether the electricity is consumed at home or fed into the grid has no bearing on these benefits.
Electricity fed into the grid is rewarded in addition to the CHP bonus and is remunerated on the basis of the current electricity price. In addition, system users also benefit from a refund of the fuel tax for the natural gas used and the charges for using the grid. From March 2011 onwards, property owners who refurbish their property, can take part in a scheme by the KfW German Development Bank where up to 5% of the investment costs for installing a new mCHP unit are subsidized.