What is CHP?

Combined heat and power (CHP) – also known as cogeneration – is a way to increase the efficiency of power plants. Standard power plants effectively use just 40 percent of the fuel they burn to produce electricity. Sixty percent of the fuel used in the electric production process ends up being rejected or "wasted" up the smokestack, as shown here:


Click here to see the graphic in PDF format.

This reject heat from a combined heat and power plant can be used to heat or cool buildings in a surrounding area through a district energy system. Combined heat and power may be possible when there is an area near the plant that has a need for the heat – a downtown area, a college campus or an industrial development.



Animation: Combined Heat and Power--How It Works

(from Greenpeace UK). Explains how a gas-fired boiler can provide high-efficiency heating, cooling, and electricity—a process sometimes called "trigeneration".

What's the Potential of CHP?

If one of our nation's energy challenges is lack of power, what if we doubled the efficiency of as many power plants as possible and got more energy for every gallon of oil or ton of coal they burn? Combined heat and power can help us do just that – and even help the environment in the process since less heat and fewer emissions will be rejected into the atmosphere.

CHP for a Sustainable Future

Oak Ridge National Laboratory published a report describing the benefits of CHP, entitled "Combined Heat and Power: Effective Energy Solutions for a Sustainable Future" on Dec. 1, 2008. Among other points raised in its executive summary, the report noted that:

"Combined Heat and Power (CHP) solutions represent a proven and effective near-term energy option to help the United States enhance energy efficiency, ensure environmental quality, promote economic growth, and foster a robust energy infrastructure. Using CHP today, the United States already avoids more than 1.9 Quadrillion British thermal units (Quads) of fuel consumption and 248 million metric tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions annually compared to traditional separate production of electricity and thermal energy. This CO2 reduction is the equivalent of removing more than 45 million cars from the road. In addition, CHP is one of the few options in the portfolio of energy alternatives that combines environmental effectiveness with economic viability and improved competitiveness."

Click here to download the report (PDF format).


Why CHP for Campuses?

In 2001–2002, the  U.S. Department of Energy and Oak Ridge National Laboratory sponsored an IDEA Survey and Report/Guidebook "Why CHP for Campuses?" in 2001-2002, which evaluated in detail the potential of CHP adoption in college and university, urban downtown, and airport campus applications. 

The report concluded that a university campus is often an ideal application for CHP because thermal loads (heating and air conditioning) match well with power requirements and existing district energy piping systems already aggregate thermal requirements.

Click to access the survey, which contains data on many campus and airport operating systems.

The report "Why CHP for Campuses" contains six sections. Click on the Section Title to access its content:

 Click here to access the report.

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