At a glance
- The volume of electricity generated by combined heat and power (CHP) has been increasing slowly, but steadily until 2016.
- 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 exceeded.
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 78.3 TWh to 117.2 TWh in 2016. 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. 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 Elektrizitätsversorung’ 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).