Cogeneration (Combined Heat and Power or CHP) is the simultaneous production of electricity and heat, both of which are used.

In conventional power plants, heat is not recovered when generating power, while in cogeneration plants the heat is put to effective use to provide comfort (space heating and hot water) or services (high temperature heat and steam) for homes, public buildings, businesses and industry. Trigeneration means that the plants can also produce cooling in addition to heat and electricity. Heating and cooling accounts for around half of the EU’s energy use, hence the importance of saving energy in these sectors by boosting energy efficiency.

Cogeneration optimizes the energy supply to all types of consumers, with the following benefits for both users and society at large:

  • Increased efficiency of energy conversion and use
  • Lower emissions into the environment, in particular of CO2
  • Large cost savings
  • An opportunity to move towards more decentralized forms of electricity generation
  • Improved local and general security of supply
  • An opportunity to increase the diversity of generation plants and provide competition in generation
  • Increased employment
Cogeneration plants can operate with increasing flexibility. Running at times of low wind and sun, thus displacing higher carbon coal and gas generation, but it can then slow and stop generation at times of abundant low carbon power. Flexible cogeneration is a key method for increasing the level of renewable generation on the power networks by managing renewable generation intermittency.