Energy efficiency is recognised as a first fuel and key contributor to Europe’s climate, energy and competitiveness ambitions on the path to carbon neutrality by 2050. To deliver on its objectives, the upcoming Fit for 55 package must reinforce energy and system efficiency across all sectors, all fuels and all segments of the energy value chain. To foster higher energy efficiency ambition, Fit for 55 should prioritise cogeneration as a key solution empowering European citizens and industry to generate their own efficient, reliable and affordable clean heat and power locally1.
Do not waste heat, produce it efficiently
In 2019, power plants across the European Union (EU) wasted 215 Mtoe in the form of heat discharged to the atmosphere. An additional 15 Mtoe2 of energy is lost when transporting electricity through power grids to end consumers. The wasted energy across the electricity sector is equivalent to the total heating and cooling consumed by European homes (i.e. 192.5 Mtoe3).
By capturing and using heat that would otherwise be wasted, and by avoiding distribution losses, cogeneration can achieve efficiencies of over 80 percent, compared to 50 percent for standard technologies.
Cogeneration today delivers 11% of EU’s electricity and 16% of its heat, including more than 50% of heat supplied to district heating. This reduces CO2 by 250 million tons, equivalent to the emissions of 100 million internal combustion cars cars. By 2030, cogeneration could generate 20% of electricity and 25% of heat. In a net-zero energy system by 2050, cogeneration will continue playing an important role, reducing energy system costs by EUR 4-8 billion per year thanks to the continued energy savings, avoided grid losses and flexibility benefits.
Source: Artelys, 2020
In district heating, most scenarios estimate cogeneration will remain the main contributor, generating as much as 40% of the heat required across a range of carbon neutral sources. In addition, cogeneration will help unlock district heating flexibility potential, producing efficient heat and dispatchable power at time of high heat and power demand.
Source: Heat Roadmap Europe, 2019
Support smart electrification
With end use electrification identified as an important dimension of the EU’s decarbonisation path, we must ensure that it is done increasingly through both renewable and efficient energy solutions.
Many studies have shown that end use electrification, especially when applied to heating buildings, will significantly increase peak demand. Even when maximising demand efficiency and meeting heating and cooling demand with highest efficiency heat pumps, it is expected that peak demand in winter will more than double in many European countries4. The challenge of matching increasing peak demand with variable renewable energy requires an integrated systems approach. A mix of efficient and renewable solutions is needed to address it.
Source: Artelys, 2020
Cogeneration will be key to complement electrified demand and help support security of supply cost-effectively.
Efficiently integrate renewables
Accelerating the uptake of renewable energy sources will also be key to the EU’s decarbonisation efforts. A diverse mix of wind, solar, bioenergy, geothermal, solar thermal and gaseous fuels will be necessary to ensure net-zero emissions energy is available when and where needed.
To ensure consumers are on board, both the availability and the affordability of renewable sources must be promoted. Since all renewable solutions rely on limited resources, the fuel itself, the land required or the materials used to build the equipment, their efficient use and consumption should be prioritised. Cogeneration is one of the ways to efficiently use thermal renewable energy sources, including renewable and decarbonised gases. Moreover, cogeneration is available to generate efficient power (and heat) at times of insufficient wind or solar power, especially during the winter season.
How can Fit for 55 support energy efficiency ambitions?
Fit for 55 offers the opportunity to consistently promote energy efficiency across EU legislation, setting a level playing field for all decarbonisation solutions and fostering system integration across the entire energy values chain. For an ambitious and cost-effective approach to energy efficiency in Fit for 55, COGEN Europe recommends: