Indicator: Combined heat and power (CHP)

A graph shows the development of CHP net power generation from 2003 (78 terawatt hours) to 2015 (102 terawatt hours) and the targets for 2020 and 2025 according to the CHP Act.Click to enlarge
Net electricity generation using combined heat and power (CHP)
Source: Federal Statistical Office of Germany Figure as PDF

Table of Contents


At a glance

  • The volume of electricity generated by combined heat and power (CHP) has been increasing slowly, but steadily until 2015.
  • The CHP Act stipulates that by 2020, 110 terawatt-hours (TWh) should be generated by CHP. By 2025 the target is 120 TWh.
  • Efforts must be maintained in order to achieve the targets.

Environmental importance

Electricity generation usually also produces heat, which normally remains unused in conventional power plants. Combined heat and power makes use of this heat. CHP systems thus have a far higher fuel utilisation factor when operating as CHP. They then use a significantly higher share of the energy than conventional systems. Compared with installations that generate electricity and heat separately, savings of up to 20 % primary energy are possible.

With decreasing energy demand, pressures on the environment associated with energy provision and transformation will also decrease. For instance, greenhouse gas emissions can be reduced by increasing the share of CHP. Demand for fuel will also decrease. The use of CHP can thus contribute to an economy that is light on resources.


Assessing the development

Electricity generation by combined heat and power plants has seen an upward trend since 2003. The electricity generated rose almost continuously from 77.5 TWh to 102.2 TWh in 2015. This increase was mainly due to the development and use of biomass for energy generation as well as the capacity expansion of natural-gas CHP.

With the revision of the Act on Combined Heat and Power generation (KWKG, in German only) in 2016 future targets of annual energy generation by CHP systems were stipulated. In 2020 the target is 110 TWh, in 2025 120 TWh shall be generated by CHP systems per year. The regulations of the new act are meant to improve the conditions for CHP. Further it was stipulated that a call for bids will be obligatory for new CHP systems with an electrical power between 1 and 50 megawatts. This results in uncertainties regarding the expected development of additional CHP capacity. Thus it is difficult to predict target achievement at the moment.



The indicator uses data on public and industrial power plants published by the Federal Statistical Office of Germany (StBA) (‘Monatsbericht über die Elektrizitätsversorung’ and ‘Fachserie 4, Reihe 6.4’, in German only). As the data collection by StBA does not cover all power plants new models were developed which consider electricity generation by additional power plants. The methodology and models are described in detail by Gores et al. (2014) and Baten et al. (2014) (in German only).

More detailed information: 'Kraft-Wärme-Kopplung (KWK)' (in German only).