In the United States, the practice of Cogeneration – or energy conservation through Combined Heat and Power (CHP) – can be traced as early as 1882 when inventor and entrepreneur Thomas Edison built the Pearl Street Station, considered the world’s first power plant. This power plant is acknowledged as an early CHP plant, as it produced both electricity and thermal energy, and unused heat that would otherwise go to waste but used to provide heating to neighboring buildings. This CHP plant is remarkable in that it is said to have achieved 50% energy efficiency.
Centralized vs. Decentralized Power Plants
Despite Edison’s pioneering work on energy efficiency, the power plants that soon proliferated were mostly centralized plants. These types of plants were encouraged by regulations, and these same regulations seemed to have discouraged decentralized power stations such as those with Cogeneration systems. It would take until 1978 before the U.S. Congress would pass the Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act (PURPA) to spur the growth of energy efficiency, but the law saw little by way of actual implementation. By this time, energy efficiency in the U.S. was only at about 8%.
It was only recently, or in 2008, when the chairman of the Recycled Energy Development estimated that the U.S. can achieve about 20% energy efficiency. The United Stated Department of Energy has taken this as a goal: to achieve 20% energy efficiency via Cogeneration by 2030.
The United States is by no means the leader in this regard, as several European countries are way ahead in this effort, particularly Germany, Denmark, Netherlands and Finland. Denmark boasts of a 55% energy efficiency; Germany follows at 50%.
Looking at the savings that Cogeneration provides is enough argument for its use, even if it has not always been as popular as it is now. The rise in popularity of Cogeneration systems, especially in the toward the late 2000s, may be attributed to a groundswell of support to sustainable energy and energy conservation in light of links to unsustainable energy practices to climate change and global warming.
Google Trends and Cogeneration
The developments in the U.S. as well as in other parts of the world that show the trend toward these technologies can also be evidenced by the rise in the occurrences of the use of Cogeneration, COGEN, or Combined Heat and Power as keyword searches in Google Search. Below is a snapshot on Google Trends comparing the 3 identified keywords:
While all 3 keywords means one and the same, their occurrences as well their trending tendencies vary. The use of Combine Heat and Power as a search word has mostly remained stable since around 2005 to the present, with only a slight tapering off. The keyword Cogeneration was the more popular of the 3 keywords in 2005, but it has trended inversely to the rise in the occurrence of COGEN, a shortcut of Cogeneration. COGEN is currently the more popular of the 3 keywords.
Breaking down where the searches are coming from, the use of Cogeneration as keyword is most popular in India. Belgium, Australia, Canada and the United States. COGEN as keyword is more popular in Latin American countries like Argentina, Mexico, Guatemala and Uruguay. (Caveat: This may have been skewed by searches in Spanish for ‘cogen’ which is a Spanish word for ‘catch’.) Combined Heat and Power? It’s the keyword of choice for the UK and the United States.
Looking back on the history of Cogeneration in the country and then also standing back to see its development to the present, it is easy to see the expanding popularity of sustainable energy, not just in the U.S. but more so in other emerging economies. This is further proof that sustainable energy through Cogeneration may be the inevitable trend that your company will have to eventually contend with.
Contact GREENCROWN Energy to help move you on this path and find out why this makes sense for you.
GREENCROWN Energy (GCE) is an Energy Consulting firm specializing in Cogeneration Systems and Energy Procurement. We also provide a variety of Energy Conservation Measures. GCE will quickly determine if your property qualifies for Cogeneration by conducting a FREE Evaluation of your energy bills and energy usage. Please CALL 877-308-2727 TODAY to setup an appointment.