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Making the Case for Industrial Combined Heat and Power

US industry used more than 30 quadrillion BTU of energy in 2011 – more than 30 percent of domestic energy consumption – yet roughly one-third of energy used in industrial processes is lost as waste heat. Combined heat and power (CHP) systems can capture this heat for productive use.

CHP systems have the potential to significantly improve overall efficiency of electricity and thermal energy production. Rather than generating heat and buying electricity from the electrical grid, both electricity and heat can be produced together more efficiently. A CHP plant can capture thermal energy that would otherwise be wasted when generating electricity, or generate electricity with heat from industrial processes. While improving efficiency by reducing waste, CHP also provides reliability, cost, and environmental benefits. A recent executive order from the Obama Administration recognized the important role CHP can play in meeting domestic energy needs when it set a goal to add 40 gigawatts of domestic CHP implementation by 2020 – a 50 percent increase from today. The industrial sector presents good opportunities for CHP implementation as many facilities have significant needs for both heat in their processes and electricity to run them.