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Lews Castle College and Tighean Innse Gall have linked up with the University of Oulu in Finland to develop a unique, energy initiative that promotes the use of combined heat and power (CHP) systems which utilise clean energy and reduce household energy costs.


Dr Alasdair Macleod, lead researcher in energy engineering at the college, said the project aims to address fuel poverty by using some of the heat used in people’s homes to generate electricity.


The purpose of the project is to promote the uptake of CHP in the region using solid renewable biomass and gasification methods appropriate for remote households.  


Northern Europe has abundant natural fuel resources but is subject to a harsher climate than the rest of Europe which means people have to ram up the heating at home.


This is expensive - particularly with the high cost of electricity - resulting in significant fuel poverty in the region.


Up to 70% of electrical energy can be lost in production and transmission lines before reaching the end user – primarily as heat loss.


The principle of CHP is to use some of the heat in the home to generate electricity.


Stewart Wilson, director of Tighean Innse Gall said: “It’s potentially brilliant for residents of the Western Isles, in that as heat is produced electricity comes from the same source. This will improve efficiency, reduce electricity consumed from the grid and lower energy bills.”


The project will analyse the energy needs of remote households in the region. The available fuel is mainly solid which is unsuitable for existing gas CHP.


A new affordable solution is proposed that uses local renewable solid biofuel in a small-scale micro CHP system.


The advantage of this approach is that all fuel used is carbon neutral, transport costs are minimal, and there are reduced CO2 emissions which helps with carbon legislation compliance, reduced transmission losses from the grid, and the electricity-to-heat production ratio is a good match for the colder parts of Europe.  


A 20 kW heat and 3-6 kW electricity with smart control system will be designed, manufactured and trialled in all participants’ areas.


The system aims to demonstrate the energy efficient use of locally sourced, renewable bio-energy in family homes, especially in remote and sparsely populated regions.


The expense of installing household CHP is a barrier and researchers will examine factors that can bring the price down.



Hebridean and Finnish researchers collaborate on bio-energy home heating project

14 December 2017