Flexible, reliable, outstandingly efficient and always ready to go – no, not the perfect employee, but rather combined heat and power (CHP) plants. CHP plants generate decentralized electricity and heat, thus relieving the grids. They also achieve efficiency levels of over 90%. CHP plants are a fundamental element of the energy transition because, in contrast to conventional centralized and fossil-fueled steam power stations, production from CHP plants can be easily capped or the plants can be shut down entirely, if necessary. They can even supply electricity at short notice and stabilize the grid, even at times when there is not enough wind and solar energy to cover the morning peak demand.
CHP and Power-to-X go hand-in-hand
CHP technology really achieves its true green potential when carbon-neutral hydrogen, biomethane or other synthetic fuels are used in place of natural gas or other fossil fuels. According to a survey of the members of the Bundesverband Kraft-Wärme-Kopplung (B.KWK), Germany’s federal association for CHP systems, an admixture of 10% is no problem for CHP plants available on the market. Various manufacturers have succeeded in making engines and gas turbines that are 100% fueled by hydrogen. Fuel cells can also run on pure hydrogen.
This makes CHP a significant link for coupling the electricity, heating and mobility sectors with one another. At the same time, it facilitates new ways of storing energy. Thanks to power-to-fuel technologies, hydrogen and other synthetic fuels can be produced using excess energy from photovoltaic or wind power sites and then stored and transported cost-effectively. CHP plants can then convert these fuels into electricity or heat on days with little wind or sunlight.
“CHP has the potential to bring together the electricity, heat and gas grids. It efficiently integrates renewable energy and its use for decarbonized energy supply,” says Hans Kortweg, CEO of the association COGEN Europe. His association, an official partner of EM-Power Europe starting in 2021, promotes the expansion of CHP across Europe. It advocates sector coupling and considers CHP to be the backbone of the future European energy system – carbon neutral, decentralized and resilient.
Gain exciting insight into this technology in a The smarter E podcast with Hans Kortweg or in person at EM-Power Europe Restart in Munich from October 6 to 8. CHP technology will share the spotlight at the energy exhibition with general sector coupling for buildings and districts as well as the efficient distribution and use of electricity and heat generated from renewable sources of energy.