A study conducted by COGEN Europe, a group working towards the wider use of cogeneration in Europe, projects that cogeneration is a foundation element in that will help Europe develop a decarbonised energy sector.
Essentially, cogeneration is a refined way of recycling energy. Also known as combined heat and power (CHP), cogeneration takes the by-product heat used in manufacturing and converts it to energy. The process prevents the burning of additional waste or products to create energy, thereby reducing the levels of carbons emitted into the atmosophere.
The COGEN Europe study reports that cogeneration is already saving Europe of minimum of 35 Mtoe (million tons of oil equivalent) a year while providing the continent with 11 per cent of its electricity and heat.
While the number is admirable, the study says cogeneration could help Europe pave the way to a low carbon future.
“With a suitable policy framework, cogeneration is projected to take a foundation role through to 2030 and provide ongoing efficiency and sustainability advantages as the energy mix changes to less carbonated sources through to 2050,” a press release stated.
In the study, COGEN Europe projects that:
- Cogeneration will be saving a minimum of 70 Mtoe of primary energy per year by 2030 (and 80 Mtoe by 2050).
- Cogeneration will be contributing 170 million tonnes CO2 savings every year to Europe by 2030.
- Efficient cogeneration will increase the sustainability of biofuels with 29% of cogeneration on biomass in 2030 and 44% by 2050.
- Over the period 2010-2030, cogeneration is key in forcing down the emissions from the fossil sector by saving primary energy.
- Cogeneration can contribute a total of at least 900 Mtoe primary energy savings by 2030. Cogeneration is the only viable CO2 reduction improvement for industrial processes until CCS is available (in 2030 at the earliest).
Cogeneration is also proving to be important part of energy strategies elsewhere in the world. At their specialized cellulose mill in Thurso, Quebec, for example, Fortress Paper Ltd. plans to build a 25-megawatt cogeneration plant at the Thurso mill that would see roughly 18.8 of those net megawatts exported to service the province of Quebec power grids over a 15-year term, though some of that energy will also be used to power the Thurso mill and its operations.
The company says they expect to have the cogeneration facility up and running by late 2012.