Combined Heat and Power Basics

Combined heat and power (CHP), also known as cogeneration, is:

  • The concurrent production of electricity or mechanical power and useful thermal energy (heating and/or cooling) from a single source of energy.
  • A type of distributed generation, which, unlike central station generation, is located at or near the point of consumption.
  • A suite of technologies that can use a variety of fuels to generate electricity or power at the point of use, allowing the heat that would normally be lost in the power generation process to be recovered to provide needed heating and/or cooling.

CHP technology can be deployed quickly, cost-effectively, and with few geographic limitations. CHP can use a variety of fuels, both fossil- and renewable-based. It has been employed for many years, mostly in industrial, large commercial, and institutional applications.

CHP may not be widely recognized outside industrial, commercial, institutional, and utility circles, but it has been providing highly-efficient electricity and process heat to some of the most vital industries and largest employers, urban centers, and campuses in the United States.

It is reasonable to expect CHP applications to operate at 65-75% efficiency, a large improvement over the national average of ~50% for these services when separately provided.

The Advanced Manufacturing Office's CHP Deployment Program provides stakeholders with the resources necessary to identify CHP market opportunities and support implementation of CHP systems in industrial, federal, commercial, institutional, and other applications.

Fact Sheets

The CHP Deployment Program has released seven fact sheets that explain the fundamentals and characteristics of CHP, including the following common CHP technologies: fuel cells, gas turbines, microturbines, reciprocating engines, steam turbines, and absorption chillers.