Steve Hodgson Editor, COSPP
Cogeneration (CHP) is a proven, cost-effective and energy-efficient solution for delivering electricity and heat, while renewable sources provide clean and secure fuels for producing electricity and heat. Powerful synergies exist when the two work together, but the standalone benefits of each technology are undeniable. So concludes yet another pro-cogeneration report – Cogeneration and Renewables: Solutions for a low carbon future – published earlier this year by the International Energy Agency (IEA).
Yet the issue of combining the benefits of CHP with those of renewable energy technologies reveals the unequal impact of market support measures for each technology family. In many parts of the world support measures have successfully stimulated the growth of renewables. But with CHP/cogeneration we still seem to be discussing the design of support measures or, worse yet, identifying the market and regulatory barriers that still exist.
The IEA itself did a good deal of work on support measures for CHP a couple of years ago (COSPP’s coverage, including a feature on the topic in the July–August 2009 edition, can be found at www.cospp.com). The agency surveyed policy measures, identifying those that had boosted CHP adoption rates in various parts of the world and those that had proven ineffectual, in an effort to encourage other countries to adopt measures that work.
It is unclear how much impact the IEA’s research has had, but two reports issued in the last few weeks suggest that the United States, at least, still has some way to go in formulating its own effective policy measures.
Making Industry Part of the Climate Solution (also reported in the news pages of this issue) tackles barriers to the growth of CHP in the US industrial sector. It suggests that requiring power utilities to procure quantities of CHP, through the creation of a federal ‘energy portfolio standard’ that includes CHP, would see industrial CHP capacity more than triple from 28 GW in 2010 to about 90 GW in 2035. The report adds that the proposed measure would be the most politically acceptable option for promoting energy efficiency in the industrial sector.
The US-based International District Energy Association (IDEA) proposes in its latest report – CHP: Essential for a Cost-Effective Clean Energy Standard – that any ‘clean energy standard in the US should include CHP as an eligible technology alongside renewables, maybe nuclear and any other technologies which may be deemed advantageous and clean.’ All very positive for CHP – but for the moment it’s just a proposal for a policy measure being supported by the district energy industry. Meanwhile, annual increases in wind power generation capacities continue to break records around the world.
In an age of growing acceptance that expensive fossil fuels cannot be used as wastefully as they have been in the past, and while a renewable energy industry is being created at some public cost, a technology that increases the efficiency with which fossil fuels are used – and that can also be used with renewable fuels – deserves more effective support.
Steve Hodgson Editor, COSPP P.S. Please visit www.cospp.com for regular updates on cogeneration and decentralized energy, together with the current issue of the magazine and articles from previous issues. At the same address you can also subscribe to the magazine and sign up for our monthly COSPP e-newsletter.