Combined heat and power to double by 2022

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Annual installations of combined heat and power (CHP) systems will reach nearly 39 GW in 2012 and more than double by 2022, according to Pike Research.

CHP uses multiple forms of useful energy (usually mechanical and thermal) in a single, integrated system, and can reduce the cost of heating, cooling, or providing power to a wide variety of commercial building types.

"The use of CHP can reduce a building's energy demand by up to 40 percent when compared to the separate production of heat and power," says Pike Senior Research Analyst Mackinnon Lawrence. "Although the high upfront cost of CHP systems and the challenge of finding suitable uses for the heat generated are key barriers, relatively short payback periods have allowed many major companies to invest in these energy saving technologies."

CHP is not a single technology, but an integrated energy system, most commonly using a gas turbine with a heat recovery unit or a steam boiler with a steam turbine, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Combined Heat and Power Partnership. The systems are widely available for a range of applications, but difficult to market to potential end users.

Alstom, however, has recently signed a contract with the German utility, RheinEnergie, for the turnkey construction of a 450 MW combined-cycle heat and power plant. RheinEnergie is investing approximately €350 million into the project.

The plant will reach an overall efficiency of close to 85 percent, making it one of the most effective in the world.

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