Combined Heat & Power

What is Combined Heat & Power?

Combined heat and power (CHP, also known as cogeneration or trigeneration), utilizes wasted heat from electric generation to increase the efficiency of power plants. Traditional power plants effectively convert only 40% of fuel energy into electricity, while 60% of energy is rejected or “wasted” as heat vented through a smokestack or released to a local body of water.

In a CHP plant, rejected heat is recovered to create steam, hot water, or chilled water to heat or cool a surrounding network of buildings through a district energy system. By utilizing the thermal byproduct of electric production, CHP plants regularly see fuel efficiencies of 70% - 85%or higher. This technology makes a district energy system an attractive energy solution for downtown areas, college campuses, or industrial entities that show a significant demand for thermal energy.

Why CHP?

CHP dramatically increases power plant efficiency thus reducing fuel costs, carbon emissions, and detriment to the local environment. Implementation of CHP is often driven by reliability requirements for mission critical facilities (such as hospitals, data centers, or research labs), sustainability needs, fuel diversity, and local sources of power generation.

District energy systems are well suited for CHP because they expand the potential thermal load, reduce the requirement for capital investment, and provide economies of scale that enable technologies like thermal energy storage or biomass more economical.

See the Department of Energy Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy CHP Fact Sheet for more information.