by Staff reporter


Combining heat and power-generating double benefits


The energy and power generation industries in Germany, in Europe and worldwide are in a state of transition. The process of transformation in the energy system has reached a critical phase, characterised by the integration and dominance of renewable energy sources and the associated growing and changing requirements for the whole electricity supply system. The “three Ds” of the target triangle in electricity supply accurately describe what is happening.

While the focus of the “magic triangle” was previously on security of supply, cost-effectiveness—with affordable electricity prices and re-financeable assets and sustainability—with the facets environmental and climate protection, it is now the “new 3 Ds”: decarbonisation, decentralisation and digitisation, which are to be regarded as the driving forces and guidelines of the developments of the future energy and electricity supply system. However, the “magic triangle” must not be lost sight of.

Completely against the trend of how it is perceived by the general public, power generation has always been subject to a continuous process of change. Even if the lifetime of plants in classical power generation of 40 to 60 years, for thermal power plants, or 100 years for hydro power projects—a rather “static” image—our power plants, both old and new, follow important processes of innovation, including those which go hand in hand with the “new 3 Ds”.

These trends are also reflected at Biodiesel Technologies® (BDT).

The structure of the German energy supply shows considerably that the “energy turnaround” is more than the transformation of the electricity sector. The electricity sector accounts for a share of 20 %; the transport sector uses 29% and in the dominant position, there is heating and cooling at 51 %. Consequently, combined generation of power and heat, together with the technical and economic system optimisation through the combination of various generation, storage and consumption options in “virtual power plants”, are essential steps. The developments in these fields are based on technical innovations but, of course, also on the commercially indicative market conditions.


In the past three years, classical combined heat and power (CHP) plants with around 4 300 MW of capacity have been put into service in Germany. The highest capacity, central but close to consumer plants for public supply, accounting for around a third of capacity, is an important force behind this power and heat combination. In terms of numbers, the several thousand small systems with capacities below 10kW are in the majority.

The future in the field of combined heat and power generation, therefore, remains exciting. The innovations in decentralisation and digitisation offer a wide range of opportunities to further develop the reasonable, reliable and already proven coupling of the energy sectors electricity and heat also according to the further development of a secure, economical and sustainable energy supply.


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Issue 39