Optimism on CHP spreads to Europe

by Steve Hodgson

I wrote last time about the wave of optimism about the development of CHP in the US that is currently crossing that country ” optimism referred to again in this issue of the magazine in the feature article by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy. Now, also in this issue, two commentators describe similar, though perhaps more cautious, views for cogeneration and on-site power development in Europe.

Prospects for cogeneration in Europe do rather depend on the final shape of the proposed new Energy Efficiency Directive currently being debated in Brussels. The European Commission’s first moves have been very positive ” they include CHP mandates for new power plants over 20 MW, as well as national heat plans and priority access to power grids. However, we have now reached the stage where these clauses may well be diluted by the European Parliament before the text is finalized. COGEN Europe’s Fiona Riddoch writes that the long and complicated process by which the directive is produced would benefit from input from the cogeneration industry and its major customers ” not least at COGEN Europe’s annual conference coming up in Brussels on 3″4 May.

The quality of European and national energy policies and support measures remains fundamental to the prospects for CHP but, in another article, Michael Brown takes a look into the future in Europe illuminated by a study of the past trends. Now a consultant, Brown has been watching policy and markets for decentralized energy for many years, at one point as the first editor of this magazine. He concludes in a positive vein, foreseeing significant growth for engine-based CHP and air-source heat pumps in particular, helped along by a weakening of the inertia of incumbent utilities.

The world doesn’t end at the US and Europe, though, so what are the prospects for a third major and mature market for cogeneration and decentralized energy ” Japan? Here, a review of energy policy being carried out in the wake of the Fukushima disaster might well deliver similarly positive prospects for cogeneration in commercial and industrial applications, and also for smaller plants based on fuel cells ” see page 48.

Japan is certainly a centre for innovation, and not just in fuel cell-based micro-CHP. Back in January the COSPP website carried an interesting report that the Tokyo Metropolitan Government plans to build a decentralized and self-supporting energy network that places no reliance on the power generation and transmission facilities of the local utility, Tokyo Electric Power Company. A 47 MW cogeneration facility built on reclaimed land in Tokyo Bay and an independent transmission network would make it possible to continue to supply power in times of natural disasters or other emergencies. Work on an initial 16 MW cogeneration facility that would be at the heart of this potentially ground-breaking initiative is due to start in 2014.

Finally, articles in this issue also draw attention to some technical advances: emissions controls for that cogeneration workhorse, the gas turbine (page 30); the growing use of devices that produce on-site power from ‘waste’ heat (page 56); and a rather exciting solar-cogen hybrid technology that’s already proving its worth in several US installations (page 44).

Steve Hodgson
Editor, COSPP

PS. Please do visit the website at www.cospp.com to see regular news updates on cogeneration and decentralized energy from around the world, together with the current issue of the magazine and a complete archive of articles from previous issues. You can use the same website address to subscribe to the magazine and to sign up for our monthly COSPP e-newsletter.

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