Thursday, November 24th, 2011
Imagine a home where all the electricity and hot water needed for a family is produced by an appliance that looks like a large washing machine. This is the world of the personal power station; a world not as fanciful as it first appears.

Australian households are suffering unprecedented increases in electricity prices; they are worried about climate change and its impact on their families and future.

Personal power station technology could be the breakthrough that puts power in the hands of consumers and lets them take control over how much they pay the energy companies – if only it was more accessible and affordable.

Energeia’s latest strategic research report, Personal Power Stations: The Australian Market for Micro-Combined Heat and Power to 2021, shows that off-the-shelf technology – in the form of micro-combined heat and power (mCHP) – could meet most of electricity and water heating needs of Australia’s gas-connected households at 61-77% lower carbon emissions.

mCHP gets its carbon credentials from the high level of efficiency with which it converts gas to electricity (up to 60%, compared to around 35% for power delivered from centralised power stations). Overall efficiency is as high as 90% when the heat that is generated is taken into account.

The technology most suited to Australian conditions is the solid oxide fuel cell (SOFC). Australia’s own BlueGen, produced by local company Ceramic Fuel Cells Limited, uses SOFC technology, as do a number of competing products that will be available in overseas markets by 2012.

“The main barrier to households purchasing mCHP is cost,” said Energeia’s Managing Director, Ezra Beeman. “Even in our best case for the technology – a 5-person home in Victoria – the household would be out-of-pocket $30,000 for a unit installed today.”

Energeia’s investigation of Australia’s mCHP market also found a low level of customer awareness and that some government programs intended to support sustainable energy unjustifiably exclude mCHP. “This relative disadvantage is set to change,” said Mr Beemen. “A price on carbon will provide relatively greater support for the mCHP market in the longer term.”

More favourable environmental policies and lower up-front costs, as growth in overseas markets deliver economies of scale in production, are shifting the economics of mCHP. Over time, this will be supported by the widespread availability of mature mCHP products and services, and growth in the number and sophistication of marketing channels.

Energeia’s analysis concluded that mCHP starts to make economic sense for larger households in New South Wales and Victoria by 2015. By 2021, some 1.5 million households could be financially better off by replacing their mains power and hot water systems with mCHP.

“This level of take-up would have a significant impact on carbon, gas and electricity markets and the entire energy industry value chain,” said Mr Beeman.

Contact Profile

Energeia Pty Ltd

Energeia is a Sydney, Australia based specialist energy consultancy and research company founded in 2009.

Our team of energy professionals provide independent research and advisory services to policymakers, regulators, industry players and suppliers focused on the natural gas and electricity value chains.

Energeia's research covers topics of strategic interest to the energy industry and its stakeholders.
Angela Bradley
P: 0429 017 167


energy prices, carbon, energy efficiency, combine heat and power, CHP, decentralised energy



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