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Cool Heat is On! CHP and Efficient DHC WG Seeking Practical Actions for Energy Savings

Thursday, March 21, 2013

By Pentti Puhakka, Clean Energy Ministerial, Global Super Energy Performance Partnership (Finland)

 Combined heat and power plant.
The efficiency of combined heat and power (CHP) to reduce emissions and fuel consumption is very often underestimated. When CHP is combined with district heating, and further with district cooling, there is a strong case to be made for these systems to be considered as part of the sustainable energy infrastructure of modern urban environments. 

Consequently, the mission of the Combined Heat and Power and District Heating and Cooling (CHP/DHC) Working Group under the Clean Energy Ministerial’s Global Superior Energy Performance initiative is to increase awareness of the efficiency advantages and the vast additional potential of CHP/DHC.

This potential can include the following beneficial results:
  • Reduce fuel consumption
  • Reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and other air pollutants harmful to the environment and human health
  • Increase and enable the use of renewable resources for heat and power production
  • Complement the use of intermittent renewable energy sources
  • Reduce dependence on imported energy and utilize local resources to increase energy security
  • Increase economic competitiveness.

CHP is the only fuel-based method for generating electricity that can reach levels of efficiency of up to 90%. By utilizing the heat output from electricity production for heating in buildings (through district heating) or in industrial applications, modern CHP plants convert up to 90% of fuel input into useful energy. CHP systems save 30-40 % of fuel consumption compared to separate condensed electricity generation and heat production systems. There is also significant potential with district cooling. We can cut down on the use of electricity for cooling by utilizing CHP and district cooling networks, particularly in countries where cooling demands are high.

From the Combined Heat and Power and Efficient District Heating and Cooling Working Group report from the third Clean Energy Ministerial.
Globally, CHP generates about 10% of all electricity, resulting in energy savings of more than 5 Exajoules (EJ), or over 1500 Terawatt hours (TWh) annually. That’s equivalent to avoiding the need for over 400 coal-fired 500 Megawatt power plants! According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), CHP is estimated to be able to reduce 10% of CO2 emissions (950 metric tons/year) by 2030.

Future actions that may be needed to take advantage of the wide potential of CHP/DHC depend on local conditions. It is not a simple case; we have to coordinate electricity and heat markets to produce electricity and heat simultaneously in order to get the best advantage. The benefits are worth of effort, though. Finland has reduced its energy use and GHG emissions by 30% by using  CHP. 

South Korea, which will host CEM5 in 2014, also recognizes the benefits of CHP/DHC. The country’s district heating market has expanded steadily over the past decade. Now, government plans call for a significant increase in the use of these systems to meet the country’s energy needs and environmental targets. The plans call for another 670,000 households to use district heating by 2013. After that goal is reached, almost one in six households in South Korea will be served by district heating and CHP systems, representing an increase of 36%. 

The CHP/DHC Working Group facilitates public-private partnerships that will create a good basis for practical projects to promote CHP and efficient DHC. For instance, a new partnership with the IEA’s CHP collaborative was launched during a recent meeting in Paris in February 2013 where joint activities, such as analysis of the role of CHP and DHC in a new energy future were explored. In addition, opportunities for partnering with other CEM initiatives, including the Global Sustainable Cities Network and the 21st Century Power Partnership, were also discussed. 

Current participants in the working group include the European Commission, Finland, Mexico, Russia, Sweden, the United States, IEA, the International District Heating Association, Euroheat & Power, and several companies from member countries. New government and private-sector partners from CEM countries are welcomed.

1 comments on article "Cool Heat is On! CHP and Efficient DHC WG Seeking Practical Actions for Energy Savings"

Perry Ning

6/23/2013 10:49 AM

Using waste heat in cold states like Finland has a great potential to be successful. China has done this for years.
Perry Ning from

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