MicroCHP (flow boiler) project (CP757)

MicroCHP (Flow boiler) project – Sandwell – CP757
Lead agency Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council (MBC)
Other partners
Project summary

The project centres on an electricity-generating domestic gas boiler, manufactured in the UK by ‘Flow’, utilising Organic Rankine Cycle engine technology.  The boiler burns gas in the combustion chamber and evaporates a liquid in the microchip module. The resultant vapour moves through a scroll expander, causing it to spin and generate electricity, which can be used in the home or exported to the grid.   The vapour then condenses in a small heat exchanger and heats the water for the central heating system.

Sandwell MBC runs an Affordable Warmth Scheme for private sector households with health problems over the age of 60, in fuel poverty on low income and in receipt of means tested benefits.  Council grant funding is used to supply, install and commission new energy efficient gas central heating systems and boiler replacements with the grants repayable at any point in future when a property changes ownership.  Flow boilers will be offered to 10 properties – only charging for additional works – as part of this scheme.

The appointed contractor ePlan Energy is an approved installer of Flow boilers. Sandwell will work with the contractor and Flow to ensure that the most up-to-date and energy efficient controls are fitted to each central heating system, including programmable thermostatic radiator valves where appropriate. It should also be possible to utilise smart technology to monitor relative performance and efficiency.

NEA is providing a grant of £66,150, and Sandwell will provide an additional £11,400 to carry out the work.

Evaluation Methodology

Conduct interviews with a sample of households to capture behaviours and previous energy expenditure.

Supplement household interviews with thermal data-logging conducted with recognised calibrated stand-alone devices, and manual energy meter readings from householders.  The evaluation will consider the cost of fuels for the boiler, the heat output to the domestic heating circuit (measured with heat meters), and any incentives the unit would generate through FIT schemes (had the installation been fitted outside of this funding).  Electricity use from the grid, generated by the boiler, and exported to the grid will be monitored, as well as household power consumption.  Monitoring will be for 12 months, and must include a full winter heating period.

Project Outcomes

In the past micro-CHP boilers have been considered too expensive for the mass market. Flow considers this to be the product that will change that.  This project aims to test the manufacturer’s claims, as well as providing replacement efficient boilers to those in fuel poverty.

Region in which project will be delivered West Midlands
Local Authority areas(s) / key locations in which project will be delivered Sandwell
Details of technologies being trialled (for Technical Innovation Fund only) Flow Products Ltd – micro-CHP condensing gas boiler (requiring a separate hot water tank)
                                                                                Funding provided
By NEA By delivery agents
Grant amount requested Match Gap
£66,150 £11,400
Eligible households assisted
NEA grant with gap funding Match Total
10 10
The report relating to this project will not be published due to matters beyond the control of the project team.
More information can be obtained from the Technical manager at NEA if required – Michael Hamer (0191) 269 2904.
Published on 06-09-2017
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