The executive order issued by the Obama administration in the US has put the spotlight back on the EU’s commitment to the green agenda, and specifically the role of combined heat and power technology (CHP) as a potential driver.
à‚ EurActiv reports that President Barack Obama’s decision to set binding targets for the proliferation of cogeneration plants by 2020 is casting a doubt on the level of ambition that genuinely exists in the EU for green targets.
à‚ Mr Obama issues a non-legislative directive – on 31 August that would see the number ofà‚ cogenerationà‚ plants double by 2020, a move welcomed as a game changer by the cogeneration industry.
It remains to be seen if the momentum gained can spur on European legislators.
à‚ Obama’s order was aimed at accelerating investments in industrial energy efficiency to help manufacturers. à‚ This could result in the US reducing 150 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions annually while generating up to 40GW ” nearly the total volume of power supplied by photovoltaic panels in Europe – by 2020, government figures show.
“What is interesting about the USA’s approach is that it is especially targeting barrier removal. For industry this is a key element of what is needed,”à‚ said Fionaà‚ Riddoch ofà‚ COGENà‚ Europe (pictured).
The American Council for anà‚ Energy-Efficientà‚ Economy (ACEEE) ranks Europe much higher than the US on energy efficiency progress. However, when it comes toà‚ cogeneration, Europe is lagging behind. The level of CHP penetration in European markets is 11 per cent according to the Euractiv report.
In its Impact Assessment for the Energy Efficiency Plan 2011, the European Commission identified an additional economic potential for CHP of around 350à‚ TWhà‚ of electricity, representing 15-20à‚ Mtoeà‚ of primary energy savings per year.
Obama’s initiative will make the USA an even more attractive market for CHP, Riddoch said, adding that Europe has substantial CHP expertise and must maintain its lead in energy efficiency.
The EU had a chance to strengthen its CHP laws in 2012, when member statesà‚ agreed, after assiduous rounds of negotiations, to adopt the Energy Efficiency Directive, or EED. But the CHP industry called the directive aà‚ missed opportunityà‚ for combined heat and power in Europe.
“What the USA has done is give a strong signal to their own industry to keep up with energy efficiency opportunities,” Riddochà‚ said. “The target and the clear signal of concern from the federal government is a wake up call.”
That signal in Europe is weaker. EU countries are not bound by a binding target, but they must carry out cost-benefit analysesà‚ for the installation of CHP when new electricity or district heating plants are being considered.
“Obama’s executive order is judged by many à¢€¦ as having more of an impact than theà‚ EED, and actually increasing the number ofà‚ cogenerationà‚ plants in the US by 50% by 2020,” energy expert Randall Bowie ofà‚ the Rockwoolà‚ International consulting firm said.
Riddochà‚ agreed, saying the CHP industry “was least well served by the new EED and this at a time where Europe needs to put extra efforts into supporting and growing the industrial base.”
Using Obama’s action as a blueprint for Europe doesn’t have universal support.
Peter Botschek, director Energy for the European Chemical Industry Council (CEFIC), said new regulations would drive industry out of Europe.
“Plants will not be necessarily built here, but outside Europe ” and this will cost jobs. That could be the consequence of [setting] ambitious targets beyond the local possibility,” he said.à‚ “We could have a binding target ” but it’s one thing to have high-flying targets and another one to have concrete measures which are balanced and supportive.”
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