Cogeneration is the process of simultaneously generating electricity and heat in a single technological process. This type of process leads to a reduction in fuel consumption and thus increases energy efficiency and reduces greenhouse gas emissions. The most common type of cogeneration is combined heat and power (CHP), where the waste heat generated in the production of electricity is used to produce heat. As for the principle of operation, it is shown in the diagram below:

Natural gas or other fuel enters the combustion chamber (engine), the primary energy of the fuel is converted into reciprocating motion (later, with the help of the crankshaft, into rotary motion) and heat energy, where it goes to the alternator with the help of a gearbox, in this case we are talking about a slow-speed or fast-speed alternator that generates electricity. The warm exhaust gas is not expelled directly outside the system, but is transported to a heat exchanger, where its thermal energy is used to heat the heating medium and used further.

Micro CHP is a type of smaller-scale cogeneration, ideal for residential customers. It is used most often in places such as swimming pools, apartment blocks and single-family houses. The efficiency of this type of installation is much higher compared to standard boilers.

Combined heat and power (CHP ) is usually more cost-effective when used on an industrial scale. Because heat, steam or cooling is an integral part of the production mechanism in industry. Note that cogeneration can power many companies. The scope of their activities is wide: chemical, paper, automotive, metallurgical, food, etc. Most CHP units are therefore located at customers with high industrial heat demand.

The Law of December 14, 2018 on the promotion of electricity from high-efficiency cogeneration (Journal of Laws 2020, item 250, as amended) introduced a bonus-based support system for new cogeneration units, viz:

  • Guaranteed bonus dedicated to the smallest cogeneration units located
    in sources with an installed electrical capacity of up to 1 MW (it is necessary to obtain a concession promise
    and as part of it to confirm the "incentive effect", and after the construction of the cogeneration unit
    within the statutory deadline to apply for admission to the support system);

The guaranteed premium is a subsidy for the electricity generated from high-efficiency cogeneration by a generator in a new small cogeneration unit that is part of a source with a total installed electrical capacity of less than 1 MW.

  • The period of support is 15 years, and the amount of the bonus is set annually
    in a decree (with an additional deduction for investment aid received).
  • To take advantage of this system, one must apply
    to the President of the ERO for a promise of a concession for a cogeneration unit before starting the investment, together with
    with confirmation of the so-called "incentive effect."

A surcharge on the electricity generated, fed into the grid and sold from high-efficiency cogeneration by a generator in a new cogeneration unit (after winning the auction):

  • dependent on the amount of net electricity - fed into the network
    and sold;
  • linked to the heat injected into the public district heating network;
  • All or part of the electricity must be sold;
  • All or part of the heat must be sold.

In the case of electricity sales, the company's "profit" is:

  • The price obtained for the sale of electricity + the value of the cogeneration premium specified in the auction bid.

Investments that have not been financed by any support programs can apply for "white certificates," which can be monetized on the Polish Power Exchange. Based on Dz. U. 2016 Item 831:

Article 19 (1 ) The following types of projects shall be used to improve energy efficiency:

  1. Use, for heating or cooling of facilities, energy generated by renewable energy source installations, utility heat in high-efficiency cogeneration:
  2. An energy-efficient district heating or cooling system means a district heating or cooling system that uses at least in:
  • 50% energy from renewable energy sources or
  • 50% waste heat, or
  • 75% heat from cogeneration, or
  • 50% of the combination of energy and heat referred to in points 1-3.";

These certificates are one-time investment support.

The European Union actively supports the spread of cogeneration. Provisions supporting its development are enshrined in European Union directives. It supports the development of cogeneration in member countries, and also establishes methods for counting cogeneration capacity for member countries. As much as 11% of the electricity produced in the EU comes from cogeneration.

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