Other positive notes were struck – most notably around the prospects for micro-CHP in Europe. Units from several suppliers will become commercially available next year, it was said, not for the first time, though perhaps more believably on this occasion. There was also a very positive session on CHP in Germany generally and Berlin in particular.

On industrial CHP, a session was addressed by representatives of three giants of the chemicals and industrial gases companies in Europe – Akzo Nobel, Air Liquide and BASF – who presented a less than encouraging picture. Owners of existing industrial schemes in these straightened times are faced with three main problems: unprecedented volatility in energy prices, uncertainty over future carbon dioxide prices, and falling demand for the heat outputs of their plants as industries reduce production quantities and, in some cases, working hours. The strategy for survival is increase plant flexibility, said Pieter Verbenne of Akzo Nobel, so that plants can be tuned down to serve smaller loads. Operators also need to renegotiate fuel supply contracts.

America’s Vice President Joe Biden has detailed plans by the Department of Energy to develop a smart electrical grid, that is likely to support the development of distributed and on-site power generation.