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Efficiency and integration key to decarbonise Europe


30 Nov 2018


COGEN Europe welcomes the strategic long-term vision for a prosperous, modern, competitive and climate neutral economy, adopted yesterday by the European Commission. This comprehensive vision outlines ways how Europe can meet the Paris Agreement goals. According to the eight scenarios presented, the future energy system will rely massively on demand-side energy efficiency, end-use and system wide electrification coupled with higher shares of renewable energy, as well as nuclear energy.
COGEN Europe is concerned that insufficient priority has been given to making efficient use of all primary energy sources and gradually integrating our electricity, heat and gas networks, two indispensable conditions to decarbonising our economy and keeping our energy bills down. While the Commission rightly recognises the key decarbonisation role of demand side efficiency, especially in the building sector, little attention is awarded to applying efficiency to primary energy sources. It is especially important that efficient generation technologies like cogeneration become the norm when using both conventional and new fuels identified by the European Commission's vision, including e-gases, hydrogen, biomass and biogas. This will ensure that overall system efficiency will increase and energy system costs are mitigated.
The focus in the vision on sector integration is positive and we hope that the concept will be further elaborated. It should not only address the storage of intermittent renewables through power-to-x, but take a broader view and better consider technologies that provide flexibility in generation, storage and demand response across the increasingly integrated electricity, gas and heat networks at local level. In this respect, cogeneration is uniquely placed to bring these networks together in a single integrated energy system, supplying efficient and dispatchable heat and electricity, avoiding costly grid reinforcements and enabling the integration of substantial amounts of renewable energy.
The cogeneration sector is committed to creating a resilient, decentralised, carbon neutral European energy system by 2050 with cogeneration as its backbone. “The Strategy is a good starting point for much needed debate on the future energy system” said COGEN Europe’s Managing Director Hans Korteweg, who added “In an increasingly integrated energy system with important shares of renewable energy, cogeneration is consumer-led and uniquely placed to deliver system efficiency, flexibility across energy vectors, reliability and cost reductions. Europe now needs predictable and stable frameworks to drive investment and ensure a level-playing between the different decarbonising solutions, including cogeneration.”
In line with the ambitious decarbonisation pathways presented by the Commission, by 2050 cogeneration should be prioritised for all thermally generated electricity and heat, in so doing avoiding wasting valuable energy. This would call for doubling the capacity of cogeneration in the EU, contributing to deliver a modern, competitive and prosperous Europe offering high-quality local jobs, and improving people's quality of life. COGEN Europe’s detailed position on the Long Term Strategy is available HERE.
About COGEN Europe
COGEN Europe, the European Association for the Promotion of Cogeneration, is the cross-sectoral voice of the cogeneration industry. Its mission is to work with EU institutions and stakeholders to shape better policies and eliminate administrative, regulatory and market barriers to the wider use of cogeneration in Europe.
Background information about cogeneration
By recovering heat that would normally be wasted in power-only generation processes, cogeneration makes Europe’s energy system more efficient, saves energy, cuts CO2 emissions and lowers energy costs. Cogeneration provides flexibility across heat, electricity and gas networks and sectors by relying on short, medium and long-term storage to balance energy supply and demand. As such, it will play a key role in integrating renewable energy, such as variable wind and solar power, but also dispatchable sources like biomass, biogas and hydrogen, maximising their efficient use and value in the economy. Another key benefit is that, being located close to the point of consumption, cogeneration avoids costly and lengthy grid reinforcements.
Cogeneration currently provides 11% of Europe’s electricity and 15% of its heat, contributing up to 21% of the EU’s CO2 reduction target and 14% of the EU’s energy efficiency target. In its new vision, the cogeneration sector sees a growing pathway for cogeneration in Europe. By 2030, cogeneration could provide 20% of electricity and 25% of heat in Europe, contributing up to 23% of the EU’s CO2 reduction target and 18% of the EU’s energy efficiency target. By 2050, the sector would like to double the capacity of cogeneration in the EU energy mix by ensuring that cogeneration is prioritised for all thermally generated electricity and heat, in so doing avoiding wasting valuable energy.


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