Establishing Emissions Standards for Combined Heat and Power Systems

October 16, 2001

WASHINGTON, D.C. — A new report from the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) was released at the National CHP Roadmap Workshop--One Year Later event today. The report, "Certification of Combined Heat and Power Systems: Establishing Emissions Standards," outlines specific recommendations for establishing a combined heat and power (CHP) certification system and appropriate methods for establishing emissions standards for CHP systems.

CHP systems, also known as cogeneration, generate electricity and thermal energy in a single, integrated system. CHP is more energy efficient than separate generation of electricity and thermal energy. Heat that is normally wasted in conventional power generation is recovered as useful energy for satisfying an existing thermal demand, thus avoiding the losses that would otherwise be incurred from separate generation of power. By utilizing high-efficiency heat and power systems, we can extract a greater amount of the available energy from our natural resources. Increased fuel efficiency translates directly into reduced emissions of greenhouse gases (GHG) and other pollutants. CHP systems can be employed in many commercial and industrial facilities where there is a relatively constant thermal need. This thermal demand can take the form of hot water, steam, space heating, cooling, and refrigeration.

"One of the greatest barriers to the installation of CHP is the complicated and lengthy plant siting and permitting process. In nitrous oxide and ozone environmental quality non-attainment areas, major new emission sources are required to meet New Source Review (NSR) requirements to obtain operating and construction permits. NSR sets stringent emission rates for criteria pollutants and requires the installation of the best available control technology," according to lead author Anna Monis Shipley, Research Associate at the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy. "New sources are also required to offset existing emissions in non-attainment areas. However, current emissions standards are generally based on fuel input, an approach that does not recognize the fuel efficiency of CHP technologies. Moreover, non-uniform interconnection standards and unfair utility tariffs inhibit the installation of CHP and other distributed generation (DG) resources."

In this report, methods for establishing CHP emissions standards in output-based regulation scenarios are described. This report is ideal for individuals and organizations who have been interested in devising standards for CHP systems but have had trouble determining how to account for the increased fuel utilization of CHP systems as opposed to systems in which only electricity is produced.