This paper fills a gap in the energy discussion by focusing on two low-carbon options: co-generation and renewables and also on heat. The need for a holistic approach to these three topics arises from a realisation that strong synergies can exist between the three. The efforts to constrain greenhouse gas emissions and concerns over security of supply of fossil fuels have led to increased attention and policy support for renewable energy over the past decade. Shares of renewable energy (RE) supply have risen over the past years and projections show the trend is likely to continue as countries transition to a low-carbon economy. Renewable energy is one of the key solutions to our energy challenges. However, transitions take time, especially when they are on the scale needed to re-invent our energy system.
Even though in the coming decades the share of renewables will rise, fossil and other alternative fuels will still play a major role. For that reason, it is important to use these fuels as efficiently as possible.
Co-generation offers the best of both worlds:
● Co-generation is a proven energy-efficient technology.
● Co-generation can accelerate the integration of renewable energy technologies.
In many instances co-generation and renewables complement each other. Several renewable technologies can be operated in co-generation mode. These include biomass, geothermal and concentrating solar power (CSP). Co-generation can assist in balancing electricity production from variable renewables. Some of the technologies that will be used for balancing renewables will invariably be fossil-based. By increasing the efficiency of the latter technologies, co-generation represents a low-carbon balancing solution. While electricity supply is a crucial aspect of the energy debate and will continue to remain as such, decision makers increasingly realise that heat supply is a sizable part of the energy system. If the system is to be decarbonised, changing the heat supply will also need to be considered. Both cogeneration and renewables are technologies that are relevant to heat supply.
Poland – a lot of modern CHPs, but almost no RE CHP. I am not sure if co-firing is included in the graph (M.Z.)