As a recent conference on electricity efficiency (part of the World Sustainable Energy Days) sobering figures were presented showing Europe’s escalating electricity consumption, its curve far above the ‘business-as-usual’ projections from 1997. It’s not only in Europe that the benefits gained from the much-increased efficiency of many electrical being cancelled out – more than cancelled out – by the sheer quantity of electrical devices that homes and businesses now use.

Whether further efficiency measures can reverse the trend remains to be seen – but the vast bulk of that power still comes from low-efficiency generation. At the same time, something like 30% of Europe’s energy is used in the heating sector – and in most cases by means of inefficient use of fossil fuel. Facing current environmental and economic constraints, doesn’t it seem obvious that new capacity needs to maximize fuel efficiency and meet the need for heat as well as power?

Exploring that, the International Energy Agency has just brought out a report quantifying the benefits – in terms of economy, environment and energy – that could result from greater use of CHP and greater use of district heating and/or cooling, and I’m pleased to say that the IEA’s Thomas Kerr has summarized it for COSPP (see page 19).

In another broad-sweeping article in this issue, WADE’s Jeff Bell investigates the benefits of CHP and other DE technologies in ensuring security of supply. Kurt Alen shows one way this could be put into practice, describing a model some utilities are adopting, which involves opting for decentralized CHP rather than large power stations, in order to respond faster to demand and ensure a more secure supply. And taking a different approach, Jon Slowe of Delta looks at the value for equipment suppliers in tracking policy and conditions growing markets in order to set their own market strategies.

In addition, we have a range of more ‘hands-on’ features. James Hunt, for instance, has been talking to owners and operators of gas turbine based CHP plants in four countries about how their plants are performing in practice – after all, as important as the theory and market potential studies may be, it’s the related implementation that the sector really wants to see.

Jackie Jones
Editorial Director, COSPP

P.S. By the time you read this the first COSPP live webcast will have taken place – if you missed it you can still listen in on ‘Cleaner, quieter, greener – getting the most out of your onsite gas turbine’ has speakers Simon Minett (Delta), Ian Amos (Siemens) and Dave Schnaars (Solar Turbines).