Canadian Biomass Magazine

Obama sets national cogeneration goal

August 30, 2012
By Argus Media

August 30, 2012, Washington, DC — President Barack Obama today signed an executive order aimed at doubling the amount of combined heat and power (CHP) capacity in the US and offering incentives for other efficiency upgrades.

“This action will cut costs, increase efficiency and help our businesses,” Obama said.

The order aims to stimulate investment in industrial energy efficiency and increased the amount of CHP capacity by 40GW by 2020, a 50pc increase from current levels. Meeting this goal would save energy users $10bn/yr and stimulate $40-$80bn in new capital investment, the White House said.

CHP units currently account for about 12pc of total US generating capacity, but the units can achieve efficiency ratings of 60-80pc, compared with roughly 33pc for the average electric power plant, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. There is about 82GW of CHP installed in the US and industry estimates indicate that it would be technically possible to add another 130GW, according to the US Clean Heat & Power Associations.

"Establishing this national goal toward greater CHP deployment will significantly advance cleaner energy generation, benefit the environment, and help create much-needed manufacturing and industrial jobs,” said Jessica Bridges, the trade association's executive director.


Existing CHP units reduce annual SO2 and NOx emissions by 0.9mn and 0.4mn short tons/yr, respectively, while offsetting 35mn metric tonnes/yr of CO2 equivalents, the association said.

US senator Chris Coons (D-Delaware) called the order “an investment in our economy [that] will better ensure American manufacturing remains competitive in today's international market.”

Coons, a member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, co-sponsored a bill that would create a national clean energy standard that would grant tradable clean energy credits to CHP facilities based on their efficiency and carbon intensity. In order to receive the credits, a CHP unit would have to generate at least 20pc of its useful energy as electricity and 20pc as heat, with an overall system efficiency greater than 50pc.

The bill, S2146, was introduced in early March but it has garnered little interest since panel hearings were held in May.

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