New IRENA study sees growing role for CHP in China

Date: 2 December 2014

A China-focused study by the International Renewable Energy Agency has identified the potential for more industrial combined-heat-and-power plants that use biomass as a fuel source.

The report notes that in order for China to reach renewable and energy efficiency targets, biomass could be used in industrial combined heat and power (CHP) plants and heaters to generate process heat. But it would still meet less than 5% of the industry sector’s total fuel demand.

At the present most existing CHP production in the country is based on coal, often integrated with municipal or industrial district heating systems or tied to power plants selling steam to nearby industrial sites or district heating loops.

The study recommends upgrading equipment to get more from the technology. “With investments in new capacity the overall efficiency of these systems are improving, but there are many industrial systems that are based on old, inefficient coal boilers and heating loops (IEA reports that average district heating boiler efficiency in China is 60 to 65%, while the heat loss from district heating pipelines is estimated to be between 20% and as much as 50%).

“Besides their comparative lack of energy efficiency, these older forms of CHP also make the reduction of pollution and GHG emissions a challenge.”

The report goes on to isolate just what Chinese CHP developers and technicians need to address, if the technology is to contribute to a cleaner energy future.

“There is an opportunity for major greenhouse gas reductions through the use of localised, customer-based CHP at individual industrial facilities and in new commercial and residential developments – utilising more efficient and clean systems based on natural gas and renewable and waste fuels.”

Source: COSPP