Justifiable optimism for US CHP

Date: 22 January 2014

By Steve Hodgson, editor COSPP

There’s a great deal of optimism in the US for a period of growth in the CHP market, particularly for smaller schemes serving commercial and small industrial premises.

This is largely due to the low gas prices that have followed the boom in shale production. But, in the land of the free, CHP developers can also look to support available at both the federal level and within several US states.

President Obama’s 2012 executive order to achieve 40 GW of new CHP capacity by 2020 offers indirect help, via the inelegantly-named US Department of Energy Advanced Manufacturing Office’s CHP Deployment Program. This aims to stimulate the creation of investment and jobs in US manufacturing industry, and to increase its energy efficiency. CHP is one particular focus area.

The AMO works through a set of regional promotional centres for CHP – these were relaunched last autumn as seven new regional CHP Technical Assistance Partnerships (TAPs). Located in California, Colorado, Illinois, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Washington state, these organisations support analyses of market opportunities, offer information on the benefits and applications of CHP, and provide technical assistance to end users considering CHP at their facility. Between 2009 and 2012, the partnerships provided technical support to more than 440 CHP projects.

While the TAPs aim to help US industry compete, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is keen on CHP for its own reasons. Its CHP Partnership is a voluntary programme that aims to reduce the environmental impact of power generation by promoting the use of CHP. The Partnership works with energy users, the CHP industry, state and local governments to facilitate the development of new projects. It also runs regular webinars on aspects of CHP.

Over the last decade, the Partnership has assisted 770 CHP projects, representing 5.6 GW of new CHP capacity. It specialises in public recognition – awarding ‘ENERGY STAR’ CHP awards to participants that adopt new CHP projects.

How about state policy on CHP? Last year, the National Association of State Energy Officials issued a guide for its members on encouraging CHP locally, covering initiatives that officials may take the lead on in local energy planning and utility regulation.

Low gas prices are by no means a panacea for CHP but, with support available from all sides as well, perhaps the optimism for US CHP is justified.