CHP: Not the Brad and Jen of energy, but...

I hesitate to start this blog with the words “combined heat and power.”  You might stop reading.

Okay, so it’s not the Brad and Jen of energy. (That would be solar and wind.) But what it lacks in glamour, it makes up for in constancy and results. It’s an old guy, been around for about a century. And while its name might not sound green, it offers an extraordinarily efficient way to energize buildings.

About once a year, the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economyissues findings that raise the profile of combined heat and power, or CHP, for at least a couple of days.

Why bother? Because despite its ponderous name, CHP is a “Wow” approach to energy, one that people should talk about at parties as much as they do solar these days.

CHP units, often used at universities, hospitals and factories, put to good use the waste heat created in producing electricity. Usually, we just let this heat vanish into the sky. But CHP, a form of distributed generation, reuses the byproduct to heat and cool buildings or assist in industrial processes. CHP can produce energy twice as efficiently as a typical centralized power plant because it provides two energy sources from one fuel. We know it works because, as ACEEE points out, CHP “has been cleanly and quietly providing over 12% of U.S. electricity.”

If it’s so good, why don’t we use more of it? The US is trying – at least some areas of the country.

“CHP markets differ considerably among states,” said Anna Chittum, ACEEE senior policy analyst and lead author of ACEEE’s September 28 report ‘Challenges Facing Combined Heat and Power Today: A State-by-State ...

Do you live in a pro-CHP state? Not if you’re in Alabama, Arkansas, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia and Wyoming.

You do, if you’re in California, Connecticut, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania South Dakota, Texas, Washington and Wisconsin.

(You can find an analysis of your state’s CHP markets and policies here.)

 

CHP’s woes are not simply a result of bad public policy. Local market factors, utility electricity prices and other influences come into play, not the least of which is today’s stalled economy.

Utilities sometimes discourage CHP development because CHP reduces their sales by letting utility customers produce all or part of their own energy. In addition,  CHP tends to be “homeless” in the world of energy regulation and advocacy, according to ACEEE. No big, powerful organization devotes itself to CHP. It has no equivalent to the American Wind Energy Association or the Solar Energy Industries Association. (But you can find information on CHP here and here.)

“CHP is not well understood by regulators, not well-suited for renewable energy programs – because it often is fueled by non-renewable fuels – and too expensive for most short-term energy efficiency programs – because its payback period is long and its upfront costs high compared to many other efficiency measures,” said ACEEE. “Consequently, few state administrations or lawmakers have taken up the cause of CHP.”

So CHP has a public relations problem. It’s not only no Brad and Jen, but it also is downright homeless. Let’s start a trend to get CHP off the street. Open up a conversation at a party with, “Hey, how about that combined heat and power…”

And thank you for reading this blog.

Views: 32

Comment

You need to be a member of Home Energy Pros to add comments!

Join Home Energy Pros

Videos

  • Add Videos
  • View All

Twitter

Latest Activity

Paul Scheckel posted a blog post

Renewable Rant: Traditional Energy!

Why, when I open up a newsletter or market evaluation report about “traditional energy” markets, do…See More
1 hour ago
Rob Madden, Solar Home Broker's discussion was featured

Indoor Air Quality Monitors and Meters

I'm considering purchasing the AirAdvice for Homes indoor air quality monitor but it seems to have…See More
2 hours ago
Luis Hernandez's discussion was featured

ERV Configuration

Greetings everyone,     I did an energy audit on this new home that is too tight and needs…See More
2 hours ago
Kim Tanner's discussion was featured
2 hours ago
John Nicholas's discussion was featured

Slab Edge Insulation - A Side Thread to Melissa's Question

Melissa Baldridge inquired about installing slab edge insulation on a potential E-Star certified…See More
2 hours ago
Melissa Baldridge's discussion was featured

ENERGY STAR - Slab Insulation

Folks,Let's say I have a client who's building slab on grade and intending to certify E-STAR.  I'm…See More
3 hours ago
Sean Maxwell's discussion was featured

Blower Door Databases: ATTMA and Retrotec rCloud

Hi guys,We're pushing for blower door testing in the building code here in Australia and we think…See More
3 hours ago
Bob Blanchette's discussion was featured

Real World Ceiling Fan CFM

Has anybody done testing on delivered CFM of ceiling fans? Energy star has a test room where the…See More
3 hours ago

© 2016   Created by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service