Also known as cogeneration, CHP uses a single fuel source to produce both heat and electricity. According to the EPA, “CHP is not a single technology, but an integrated energy system that can be modified depending on the needs of the energy end user.”
CHP can provide integrated systems for cooling, heating and power. Heat normally lost in a traditional boiler is recovered to provide needed heating and/or cooling. Fuel sources include natural gas, biomass, biogas, coal, waste heat, or oil.
While not completely “green” since natural gas is a fossil fuel, gas is more efficiently used through the concurrent production of electricity and useful thermal energy.
According to the U.S. Department of Energy, CHP is installed at more than 3,500 commercial, industrial and institutional facilities across the nation, and accounts for 85 gigawatts—almost 9 percent—of the country's total electricity capacity.
It is a known technology that has the best payback in buildings with high electricity costs, a steady thermal load (heating or cooling), and long operating hours:
Incentives help offset CHP installation costs: