Richard Baillie

As the world of CHP gets ready to meet at POWER-GEN Asia in Bangkok at the start of October, COSPP contributing editor Steve Hodgson notes that the centre of gravity for new CHP projects is heading towards Asia.

It’s a theme we explore in depth in this issue because, although conclusive and accurate data is hard to come by, anecdotal evidence for CHP growth in Asia is overwhelming. Joerg Mielke, director sales at MTU Onsite Energy GmbH Gas Power Systems, is one of the main players with wide-ranging experience of Asia’s various CHP markets.

‘We’re seeing CHP in China with coal and methane and smaller applications in hospitals; we’re seeing the north of India as interesting, where we’re seeing big buildings using heat to be independent from grid,’ he says. ‘Biogas is also very important, and using CHP with other types of gas is interesting in Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia and India, while Pakistan is very strong in CHP at the moment (due to) the availability of pipeline gas.’

There is clearly huge potential for growth in all of these markets and the overall outlook is almost uniformly promising across Asia, despite a tapestry of very different markets at various stages of development, each defined by its own sets of rules, regulations, targets and government incentives.

Surprisingly, perhaps, the Asian CHP market that is hardest to call at the moment is Japan. In terms of micro-CHP, of course, Japan is forging ahead rapidly and currently accounts for more than three quarters of global sales in micro-CHP units. But what news of the larger industrial and commercial CHP systems?

Back in March 2012 we reported that anti-nuclear sentiment in the wake of the Tohoku earthquake and Fukushima nuclear crisis could drive a substantial rise in Japan’s commercial and industrial CHP capacity, which currently amounts to almost 1 GW. There were reports that a change in Japan’s energy policy could see this rise to 7 GW by 2030. That said, there have been several false dawns before and Japan’s energy policy reviews tend to move tortuously slowly. But there is a growing feeling that this time will be different. Indeed, the signs are increasingly promising that CHP will benefit from a long-awaited energy policy review.

Recent reports from Tokyo suggest that Japan’s government might establish a goal of abolishing nuclear power completely within two or three years. As early as October, the Democratic Party of Japan may unveil its new energy policy, in which CHP could rank among the chief beneficiaries, especially if electricity companies raise purchase prices to buy in more electricity.

Could a boom in Japanese CHP fuel growth in the rest of Asia? Only time will tell, but if the micro-CHP market is anything to go by, then the outlook is encouraging. Japanese companies have been at the forefront of developments in proton exchange membrane fuel cells, Stirling and organic rankine cycle engines and research into other promising technologies including solid oxide fuel cells.

All of these are helping to drive the market in micro-CHP, which will ultimately drive unit costs lower. In the final analysis, if the Japanese government decides that it is going to promote CHP, then that policy change stands to benefit not only Japan but the whole world.

Richard Baillie
Editor, COSPP

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