National and regional policy makers need to adopt strategic overall support measures for CHP and district heating and cooling (DHC) systems before they go on to implement particular measures to support individual technologies or CHP in particular sectors. And any efforts will be massively helped by the establishment of a ‘champion’ organisation – a government department, regulator or similar to draw up the overall strategy, implement policy and monitor progress.

These are the main conclusions from a new report due to be published very shortly by the International Energy Agency’s (IEA’s) CHP/DHC Collaborative programme. A draft of the report was discussed at a final meeting of the Collaborative at the IEA HQ in Paris on 19 March – COSPP magazine has been involved throughout

The Collaborative was conceived two years ago by the IEA finally to gather believable data on CHP/DHC use and its potential for growth among IEA member countries and selected others. The IEA had until then failed to include data on CHP/DHC in its highly influential publications. Speaking at the final meeting, IEA Executive Director Nobuo Tanaka committed the organisation’s efforts to include data on CHP in future editions of, eg the World Energy Outlook.

Supported by a number of energy equipment suppliers and some CHP lobbying groups, the Collaborative has already completely some remarkably valuable work in gathering and publishing data on CHP/DHC, an area where previous efforts have been distinctly patchy. Previous articles in COSPP (see January-February 09 issue in particular) have summarized the series of country policy profiles already published as part of the output from the Collaborative.

The final report will include summary data on CHP capacity and potentials around the word, but will major on guidance to governments, regulators and other policy makers on which policies and support measures have been effective elsewhere – and which might therefore be right for them to adopt. Policy options – and there are many options, from financial support, utility supply obligations and local heat planning – will offered to governments of countries, regions, cities or states within a federal set-up.

Perhaps predictably, the largest scope for new CHP/DHC capacity may well exist in China and India, the report will say, and these countries may have much to learn from countries where the market is more highly developed.

One theme that came out was that, although a certain amount of support is available in several countries and states (eg Germany, California) for small-scale CHP plants, the same cannot be said of larger, industrial-scale plants. Indeed, the arrival of growing quantities of renewable generating capacity onto grids in recent years may be displacing some of the power exported from large CHP plants during periods of low overall power loads, eg at night.

The meeting also looked to the future. George Armistead of Conoco Phillips, which operates Europe’s largest CHP plant at a refinery in North East England, suggested that large-scale CHP plants could, on top of their conventional benefits, also act as catalysts towards the development of carbon capture and storage (CCS) schemes. Giant industrial CHP plants tend to close down large numbers of smaller boilers – and therefore consolidate multiple carbon dioxide emissions centres into large points, which can then be treated to remove carbon dioxide.