The supply of heat is largely ignored in the energy and climate change debate, even though it represents nearly half of the world’s final energy consumption, says the ‘Co-generation and Renewables: Solutions for a low-carbon energy future’ report from the International Energy Agency (IEA).

The report observes that cogeneration is attractive to both policy-makers and private users and investors because it delivers a range of energy, environmental and economic benefits.

These benefits include: dramatically increased energy efficiency; reduced CO2 emissions; increased energy security through reduced dependence on imported fuel; cost savings for the energy consumer; and beneficial use of local energy resources – particularly through the use of waste, biomass and geothermal resources in district heating and cooling systems – providing a transition to a low-carbon future.

According to the latest figures, heat represents 47% of energy consumption, compared with 17% for electricity, 27% transport; and 9% for non-energy use, which covers fuels that are used as raw materials in different sectors, such as oil used to make plastics.

Oil, coal and gas account for more than two-thirds of the fuels used in meeting this significant demand for heat, which causes significant levels of CO2 emissions into the earth’s atmosphere.

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