CHP and DHC Applications


Three categories account for the vast majority of CHP applications:

  • Industrial
  • Commercial, Institutional and Residential
  • DHC

CHP has a long history within the industrial sector, which has large concurrent heat and power demands, and which also has by far the greatest installed capacity (in terms of electricity production) of the three applications. District heating also uses CHP systems extensively, providing heat for countries with long heating seasons and increasingly cooling during the summer months. However, advancements in technology development have led to the availability of smaller CHP systems, with reduced costs, reduced emissions and greater customisation. As a result, CHP systems are increasingly used for smaller applications in the commercial and institutional sectors, and are being incorporated more often into DHC systems. The following table summarises these applications.

CHP Applications

Typical customers Chemical, pulp and paper, metallurgy, heavy processing (food, textile, timber, minerals), brewing, coke ovens, glass furnaces, oil refining Light manufacturing, hotels, hospitals, large urban office buildings, agricultural operations All buildings within reach of heat network, including office buildings, individual houses, campuses, airports, industry
Ease of integration with renewables and waste energy Moderate – High (particularly industrial energy waste streams) Low – moderate High
Temperature level High Low to medium Low to medium
Typical system size 1 – 500 MWe 1 kWe – 10 MWe Any
Typical prime mover Steam turbine, gas turbine, reciprocating engine (compression ignition), combined cycle (larger systems) Reciprocating engine (spark ignition) , stirling engines, fuel cells, micro-turbines Steam turbine, gas turbine, waste incineration, CCGT
Energy / Fuel Source Any liquid, gaseous or solid fuels; industrial process waste gases (eg blast furnace gases, coke oven waste gases) Liquid or gaseous fuels Any fuel
Main Players Industry (power utilities) End users and utilities Include local community ESCOs, local and national utilities and industry
Ownership Joint ventures/
third party
Joint ventures/
third party
From full private to full public and part public / private, including utilities, industry and municipalities
Heat / electricity
load patterns
User- and process-specific User-specific Daily and seasonal fluctuations mitigated by load management and heat storage