In the 1980s, cogeneration facilitated the development of the distributed energy system. However, CHP hit a major crisis in 2010. In this article, Jose María Roqueta, President of AESA, analyses the current situation and the measures needed to facilitate and justify further development of this technology. In recent times, there has been greater investment in renewables than in CHP. Investing in cogeneration is more difficult than investing in renewables for a number of reasons, primarily because of the risks investors are required to assume.
Chief amongst these risks is the price of fuel, which is difficult to forecast in the long term. Such risks make investment in renewables more attractive, because renewable technologies enjoy certain advantages in this respect: investment per kW is similar, the cost of fuel is negligible, and operating and maintenance costs are similar to those of other technologies. Moreover, renewables are more positively perceived from the environmental perspective, and by both the general public and companies operating in the energy sector.
Another factor is competition from the centralised electricity system, made up of large power stations located far from consumers: large hydropower, nuclear and coal-fired plants, wind farms, solar photovoltaic and CSP plants. Economies of scale enable much lower investment costs per kW. Recently built combined cycle power plants can have electrical efficiencies of almost 55%, nearly the same as the first CHP plants, which had electrical efficiencies of around 60%.
President of AESA
Article published in: FuturENERGY January-February 2017