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Cogeneration & CHP


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Major Topic Sections

Fossil-fueled Power
Non-Fossil Generation
End-Use Efficiency
Electricity T&D
Carbon Sequestration
Non-CO2 Reductions
Other GHG Reductions

Related topics in this section

Up to Section Head
Advanced Coal Power
Turbine Efficiency
Cogeneration & CHP
Natural Gas
Upgrading Controls
Plant Equip. Upgrades
Coal Prep & Handling


 Cogeneration and Combined Heat & Power (CHP)


Cogeneration and Combined Heat and Power (CHP) technologies utilize both electricity and heat generated from a single source. These systems recover heat that normally would be wasted in an electricity generator, and utilize to produce one or more of the following: steam, hot water, heating, desiccant dehumidification or cooling. Through the use of CHP systems, the fuel that would otherwise be used to produce heat or steam in a separate unit is saved.

CHP offers dramatic advantages in efficiency and much lower air pollution than conventional technologies. In conventional conversion of fuel to electricity, over two thirds of the energy input is discarded as heat to the environment. By recycling this waste heat, CHP systems achieve efficiencies of 60% to 80%  – a dramatic improvement over the average 33% efficiency of conventional fossil-fueled power plants. Higher efficiencies reduce air emissions of nitrous oxides, sulfur dioxide, mercury, particulate matter, and carbon dioxide.

A wide variety of CHP technologies generate electricity and meet thermal energy needs (direct heat, hot water, steam, process heating and/or cooling) simultaneously, at the point of use. By contrast, conventional generation of electric power discards much of the heat generated during energy production, and conventional thermal energy generation often misses the opportunity to generate power.

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 Power Partners Projects

Basin Electric Power Cooperative (BEPC) developed a 22-MW, zero-emissions waste-heat-recovery project using the hot exhaust gases from existing compressor stations, located along the Northern Border Pipeline, to generate electricity.

Great River Energy (GRE) of Elk River, Minnesota utilizes waste heat to heat and cool a new warehouse, garage, and office space adjacent to a generating station. The innovative technology provides virtually all of the heating and cooling for 57,000 square feet of building space, which results in approximately 97 tons of avoided CO2 emissions on an annual basis.

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 References, Sources, and Other Useful Data

Combined Heat and Power Association (CHPA) (UK)

UK’s Combined Heat and Power Association works to promote the wider use of combined heat and power and community heating. The aim of the CHPA is to promote the wider use of combined heat and power and community heating. To do this, the Association works with its members, Government and other non-Government organizations to address the barriers that currently face CHP and Community Heating; ensure that when Government policies are developed they allow CHP and Community Heating to play their full role in delivering economic, social and environmental benefits to the UK; and educate and inform Government, business and the wider community about the benefits of CHP and the great potential that exists in the UK to take advantage of it.

Electric Power Research Institute, “Technical and Economic Assessment of Combined Heat and Power Technologies for Commercial Customer Applications” (EPRI Product ID #1007759, March 2003)

In general, the overall efficiency of energy utilization by conventional power systems averages around 33 percent. Combined heat and power (CHP) technologies installed at commercial and industrial sites, however, can increase the overall efficiency beyond 85 percent by recovering waste heat and putting it to beneficial use. Thus, CHP reduces the energy consumption and improves environmental quality. Currently, CHP accounts for approximately only 7 percent of total generation capacity and 40 percent of the non-utility generation capacity in the United States. This report addresses how to increase the CHP capacity in the commercial sector. It includes a technical and economic assessment of CHP technologies and commercial customer segments that offer the best CHP potential. The report specifically focuses on key issues that need to be addressed to ensure successful applications of CHP technologies in commercial buildings.

Environmental Protection Agency and U.S. Department of Energy, “Energy Star Program: Buildings & Plants”

ENERGY STAR is a government-backed program helping businesses and individuals protect the environment through superior energy efficiency. Improving the energy performance of buildings and plants requires managing energy strategically across the entire organization. EPA provides strategies, tools, professional assistance, and recognition opportunities to help you meet your goals and contribute to ENERGY STAR’s nationwide challenge to improve the energy efficiency of facilities by 10 percent or more!

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), “Combined Heat and Power Partnership”

The CHP Partnership is an EPA program that seeks to reduce the environmental impact of power generation by fostering the use of CHP. The Partnership works closely with the CHP industry, state and local governments, and other stakeholders to develop tools and services to support the development of new projects and promote their energy, environmental, and economic benefits.

International District Heating Association (IDEA)

The International District Energy Association (IDEA) is a nonprofit trade association founded in 1909. IDEA’s vision is to promote energy efficiency and environmental quality through the advancement of district heating, district cooling and cogeneration. The website provides an online searchable library of past conference proceedings, magazine articles, and conference papers.

United States Clean Heat and Power Association (USCHPA)

The U.S. Combined Heat and Power Association (USCHPA) brings together diverse market interests to promote the growth of clean, efficient CHP in the United States. For nearly a decade,  USCHPA has provided superior advocacy, networking, education, and market information to companies in the business of clean, local energy generation.  More than 60 organizations and their affiliates (including several Fortune 500 companies), 300 individuals, and allied industry groups recognize that USCHPA membership delivers benefits in the form of sound clean energy policy and marketplace solutions necessary to survive in today's energy environment.

U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, “Combined Heat and Power Basics”

This site provides information on CHP technology basics. The ADD CHP program (Accelerated Development and Deployment of CHP at Federal Sites) makes information and technical assistance on CHP technologies available to Federal agencies interested in reducing primary energy use while increasing security and flexibility through on-site power generation. Through the ADD CHP Program, FEMP teams offer a full range of support, technical assistance, and financial guidance for CHP projects.

U.S. Department of Energy, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, “Cooling, Heating, and Power Technologies (CHP)”

The CHP Technologies Program team has a broad spectrum of capabilities and experience. The professional background of the team members includes chemical engineering, civil engineering, mechanical engineering, and a variety of science and administration degrees. Many of the team professionals have advanced degrees.

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Last revised: Dec. 11, 2009.