Wednesday, April 7, 2010

European Union promotes combined heat and power (CHP)

The European Union expects to save 250 million tons of CO2 by 2020 in Europe through the use of combined heat and power? Combined heat and power (CHP) is when power plants capture and use the heat associated with making electricity, instead of wasting it, as virtually all large-scale US power plants do. When US power plants use biomass, they only get about 20 - 30% efficiency, and waste the majority of the tree's energy. CHP commonly gets up to 90% efficiency.

In 2004 the EU launched a Directive that required its Member states to keep track of their developments with respect to CHP and to analyze their national potential. In September 2007 they began evaluations of the progress towards utilizing CHP. Since then, every four years the Members of the EU perform CHP evaluations.

As of March 2009, this Directive has led to significant regulatory developments in Belgium (green certificates and CHP quotas), Spain (a decree on the sale of CHP electricity) or Germany (a law on CHP). The German law contains, amongst other things, a goal of 25% CHP power in 2020, a bonus on all electricity generated by CHP and lifts any size limits on the construction of new CHP plants.

In 2006, the US Department of Energy set a goal of having 20% of its total electricity consumption generated through CHP by 2030. Currently, the US produces about 8% of all domestic electricity from CHP. In Europe, The Netherlands produced almost 30% of all electricity through CHP, Finland produced 35% and Denmark tops the list with a staggering 52%.

Among the European countries that use the most biomass to produce CHP are Sweden at 75%, Finland at 46%, Austria at 32% and France at 23%.

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