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IPCC confirms role of CHP in long-term CO₂ reduction


22 Apr 2014



COGEN Europe welcomes the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) recognition (with strong agreement) of the key role played by combined heat and power (CHP) in reducing greenhouse gas emissions from energy supply. Marking the contradiction between this finding and the direction of some EU member states’ policy on CHP, COGEN Europe warns that the current situation risks undermining even existing gains.

The Working Group III contribution to the IPCC’s Fifth Assessment Report [1] shows that global GHG emissions have risen to unprecedented levels [1]despite a growing number of policies to reduce climate change. Emissions grew more quickly between 2000 and 2010 than in each of the three previous decades.

In its consideration of mitigation approaches for different sectors, the IPCC report concluded there is “robust evidence” and “high agreement” that “GHG emissions from energy supply can be reduced significantly by replacing current world average coal-fired power plants with modern, highly efficient natural gas combined-cycle power plants or combined heat and power plants”. Indeed, “delaying mitigation efforts beyond those in place today through 2030 is estimated to substantially increase the difficulty of the transition to low longer-term emissions levels,” the IPCC report warned.

In Europe there are signs of further mitigation delay and loss of opportunity. Industrial CHP is facing difficulties in several European countries due to a combination of circumstances, including extreme fluctuations in electricity prices, overcapacity in much of the electricity market and high gas prices, which make industrial CHPs particularly challenging to operate in the near term. Plants in Spain and the Netherlands are at a standstill. These energy market developments come at a particularly crucial stage of the investment cycle, presenting many industrial plant operators with unbearable financial risks regarding reinvestment in these highly efficient plants.
COGEN Europe Managing Director Fiona Riddoch says “the IPCC report particularly highlights the value of near-term actions and the value of CHP in CO₂ mitigation. European member states must take steps now to give confidence to stakeholders so that at least their installed capacities will be maintained, through what is an exceptionally difficult time for the larger players in the sector”.

[1] The Working Group III contribution to the IPCC’s Fifth Assessment Report (AR5) assesses literature on the scientific, technological, environmental, economic and social aspects of mitigation of climate change.
[2] Despite a growing number of climate change mitigation policies, annual GHG emissions grew on average by 1.0 giga tonne carbon dioxide equivalent (GtCO₂eq) (2.2%) per year from 2000 to 2010 compared to 0.4 GtCO₂eq (1.3%) per year from 1970 to 2000  (Source: IPCC WGIII AR5).




For more information please contact:

Andrew Williams, Communication Manager
Tel: +32 2 775 9071


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About cogeneration: 

Cogeneration (also known as CHP or Combined Heat and Power) involves the simultaneous production of heat and electricity from a single plant which results in massive savings to the economy of primary energy and consequential reductions of GHG emissions.

Today, a significant 11.2% of Europe’s electricity is generated using a vast array of proven and cost effective techniques (cumulative capacity > 100 GWe). About half of the heat produced is used in district heating network while the remaining half serves industrial needs.

Cogeneration units can be found in various sectors and sizes: in industries, households and tertiary buildings and in capacities ranging from a kilowatt to hundreds of MegaWatts of electricity output. CHP plants can draw upon a wide range of energy sources, from traditional fossil fuels to renewable energies (combustion-based units with biomass, biogases or bioliquids, or steam-based plant connected to geothermal or concentrated solar panel installations) that make them ready for the future energy system.

Realising the identified economic potential for cogeneration in Europe – estimated at 110-120 GWe additional – will be instrumental to reaching the EU’s strategic climate and energy goals, while underpinning job creation and being an engine to industrial competitiveness.

About COGEN Europe:

COGEN Europe is Europe’s umbrella organisation representing the interests of the cogeneration industry, users of the technology and promoting its benefits in the EU and the wider Europe. The association is backed by the key players in the industry including gas and electricity companies, ESCOs, equipment suppliers, consultancies, national promotion organisations, financial and other service companies. More information on