Indicator: Combined heat and power (CHP)

A graph shows the development of CHP net power generation from 2003 (78 terawatt hours) to 2018 (115 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 2017. The decrease in 2018 is due to a change in accounting for installations in energy statistics. 
  • The CHP Act stipulates that by 2020, 110 terawatt-hours (TWh) should be generated by CHP. By 2025 the target is 120 TWh.
  • In 2016, the 2020 target has already been slightly exceeded.

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 until 2017. The electricity generated rosefrom 78.3 TWh to 115.4 TWh in 2018. 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. The decrease from 2017 to 2018 is mainly due to an improved energy-statistical accounting of CHP plants from 2018 onwards (for further information see Gores, Klump 2018, in German only).

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. Still, the target set for 2020 has already been exceeded in 2016.



The indicator is based on data for public and industrial power plants by the Federal Statistical Office (‘Monatsbericht über die Elektrizitätsversorgung’ and ‘Fachserie 4, Reihe 6.4’, in German only). However, these surveys do not cover all 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).