Combined heat and power generation
n combined heat and power generation, the energy content of the fuel is recovered in the most energy-efficient and environmentally friendly way. The part of the fuel’s energy that cannot be converted to electricity is recovered as heat. Due to the efficiency of co-generation, the use of fuels and the environmental emissions and effluents are almost one-third lower than when energy is produced in separate electricity and heat production plants.
CHP plants produce electricity when it is needed
A combined heat and power (CHP) plant is normally used according to the need for district heat, i.e. at full capacity when the heating need is highest. That is when it will generate the highest amount of electricity as well. Electricity demand is normally highest during cold winter days, and that is when heat demand is also at its highest. On the other hand, in a CHP plant, electricity generation can also be adjusted according to the market price of electricity. The adjustablity and energy efficiency of CHP can be increased further by investing, e.g. in heat accumulators and flue gas condensers.
Combined heat and power generation has spread throughout Finland and created jobs. CHP supports the use of domestic fuels and enables regionally distributed electricity generation, which improves the security of supply in fault situations, as well as emergency supplies of energy.
Finland is a forerunner in combined heat and power generation
CHP generation has a long history in Finland, and the technology has been developed over decades. The role of CHP generation in the energy mix is significant, especially in large cities.
In the EU, combined heat and power generation amounts to only just over ten per cent of total electricity production. Therefore, CHP generation is regarded in the EU as the most significant individual method to reduce greenhouse gases. The EU’s energy efficiency directive also obliges the member states to promote co-generation in order to achieve the set energy efficiency targets.
Competitiveness of CHP must be safeguarded
Finland is part of the Nordic and integrating European electricity markets. Renewable energy subsidy mechanisms reduce the price of electricity also in Finland. The low price level of electricity does not encourage investing in CHP plants. These days, market steering results in a growth of the relative share of separate heat production. Due to overall energy efficiency, it is important to maintain an operating environment that encourages co-generation and carries on a stable regulatory policy.