Combined heat and power (CHP) was always a great idea: using the heat generated as a by-product of electricity production to warm homes in colder climes.
CHP, also known as cogeneration, has been a niche energy source in Russia and parts of northern and eastern Europe for years. Now the question is whether it can grow into a far more significant player in the global energy sector.
A traditional coal- or gas-fired power plant typically converts between 40% and 60% of its energy to electricity, depending on its degree of efficiency, with the rest disappearing as heat energy. CHP takes that currently-wasted asset and uses it to heat nearby homes, towns or even roads, keeping them ice-free in winter.
It relies on coordinated thinking, planning -- and a need for heat. Where power is owned locally, it makes sense to heat the local municipality. In fact, many CHP schemes evolved from the need to heat first, in municipal district heating schemes, with electricity as an added bonus.