I hope you like the new look of the magazine for the start of the new decade – we like to think we have updated the design to improve its visual appeal. This issue also marks the tenth anniversary of COSPP, which was first published at the start of the new century.
Much has changed since then – and many things have not. Back in the first couple of years of publishing the magazine there was much discussion of the likely positive effects on decentralized energy of tightening environmental standards, particularly as the Kyoto Protocol (first adopted in 1997) stuttered towards eventual ratification in 2005. Under the Protocol, 37 industrialized countries committed themselves to what now seems a very modest target indeed – to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases by 5.2% from the 1990 level by 2012. Cogeneration then offered the best opportunity for increasing the efficiency of use of fossil fuels – and it still does. But even the modest Kyoto target is going to be missed and last December’s Copenhagen meeting largely failed to set a successor agreement to Kyoto.
Early issues of COSPP also debated whether liberalization of the energy industry and markets would aid or hinder the development of cogeneration and decentralized energy. The verdict usually reached was that liberalization created new economic and institutional barriers, many to do with the power of established utilities. Indeed we still publish articles which list market and institutional barriers to CHP. A new angle on this theme is contained in an article in this issue, from Delta Energy & Environment (on page 25). This suggests that progressive utilities around the world are beginning to see the benefit of increasing their involvement with decentralized energy as a new way of engaging with customers and electricity distribution issues, in fully-liberalized markets. Indeed the inclusion of decentralized energy is increasingly seen as a good way of getting lots of intermittent wind power onto electricity networks.
Technology has also evolved over the last decade, but perhaps not so far as expected. Mainstream technologies such as engines and gas turbines have become slightly more efficient versions of themselves, with perhaps significantly lower emissions. Microturbines, which were quite new a decade ago, have made progress without having anything like the market impact predicted by some proponents. It’s a similar story with fuel cells and domestic-scale micro-CHP – although developers are, as always, confident that micro-CHP will be available commercially in the next year or two. The decade has also seen the emergence of on-site renewables – quite substantial rooftop photovoltaic systems are now commonplace in several parts of the world, and on-site wind generation is also beginning to take root.
Here’s to the next ten years of growth of cogeneration and on-site power production – in all its guises.
PS. Please don’t forget to visit the also re-designed www.cospp.com to see regular news updates on decentralized energy, the current issue of the magazine in full, and an archive of articles from previous issues. It’s the same website address to sign-up for the regular COSPP e-newsletter too.