COGEN Europe’s annual event went ahead despite terrible events in Brussels on Tuesday morning.

The combined heat and power (CHP) group’s ‘The Power of Heat’ conference took place as planned despite a diminished audience due to a terrorist attack on the city’s airport and metro.

Roberto Francia, Managing Director of COGEN Europe, offered the industry’s deepest condolences on the tragedies then unfolding in the city and paid tribute to delegates for managing to participate despite difficult circumstances.

One of the centrepieces to the event was the unveiling of COGEN Europe’s 2016 National Snapshot Survey, which outlines the potential for future growth in CHP in Europe.

The survey highlighted that segments of the CHP market are expected to grow significantly in the coming years, including the commercial and renewable CHP sectors which are showing strong growth potential in the short-to-medium term.

The snapshot covered 19 EU countries including Turkey and represented 88% of installed capacity in the region.

One of the main findings by analysts was that installed CHP capacity was stable over the past five years, as growth reported in countries representing 39% of installed capacity was offset by flat trends or even decline in the rest of the countries surveyed.

The analysis found that generated electricity trends declined in most countries due to the economic downturn, decreased demand for industrial goods and energy and also quite unfavourable market conditions in terms of spark spreads and policy.

‘Indeed, across nations policy instability has arisen most frequently,’ COGEN Europe’s Alexandra Tudoroiu-Lakavice told the audience. ‘But looking deeper, commercial CHP has proven quite strong in the last four to five years – light industry commercial CHP has grown in a positive direction despite poor spreads, particularly in Belgium, the Czech Republic, Ireland, Poland and the UK.’

Lakavice also referred to a renaissance in district heating in the Czech Republic, France, Italy and the UK and the general improvement of micro-CHP across the bloc, but overall she said performance is ‘patchy’.

Delegate Kees Den Blanken of COGEN Nederland questioned whether the industry could make any real progress if it continues to rely on policy stars being aligned in the industry’s favour.

‘EU CHP has remained stable at 12% over the last five years and so we have failed,’ he said. CHP can ‘reduce GHG by 10%-12% – that type of bigger picture is what is missing. That is the drama of the big numbers we play with. If we continue to press for stable policy measures we will be at 12% and not fulfilling promises for another five years.’

In terms of energy efficiency policy implementation, namely the European Energy Efficiency Directive (EED), only 15% of member states surveyed were on target, with 17% reporting no progress and the majority of member states still in the middle of progressing projects, therefore the potential impact of that legislation on CHP remains unclear.