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Energy Efficiency

The Benefits of Cogeneration

800px-Didcot_power_station_cooling_tower_zootalures It took me awhile to see the word as CO-generation not COGeneration, and then another few minutes to understand just what cogeneration was, but I finally got there. And needless to say, I was immediately intrigued by the possibilities, and similarly confused as to the lack of implementation of cogeneration.

Cogeneration, according to the wonderful Wikipedia, is the use of a heat engine or a power station to simultaneously generate both electricity and useful heat.

For example, look at a power station: in its production of our electricity, through the burning of fossil fuels like coal, a power station will often end up excising the generated heat by heating up water, and then venting the steam out through the massive cooling towers.

Imagine the opportunity we have to harness that heat, in addition to the electricity that is created.

This latest train of thought was sparked by an article at Policy Innovations, which looked at how cogeneration can cut carbon and costs. The authors of the article, Roy Morrison and Pentti Aalto, believe that, in conjunction with heat-pump technology and plug-in vehicles, cogeneration could help see an 80% reduction in carbon dioxide emissions within 10 to 20 years.

Chicago is already making use of cogeneration. They’ve committed to produce 1.5 billion kilowatt hours of electricity by 2010 using cogeneration, a process that is 90% efficient.

Roy Morrison refers to Southern New Hampshire University’s designs to install a “…wood gasifier using sawdust to run gas engines that will generate an estimated 2 million kWh of electricity as well as heat the east side of campus.”

Cogeneration is not a new idea, and has been around for a couple of decades now. It is used all over the world, and taking yourself on a quick tour through Google will showcase a number of such examples. But until cogeneration is implemented across a larger and wider variety of installations, real change is not going to happen. We have the technology, we have working examples, now we just need the drive to make it work.

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I'm a Christian, a nerd, a geek, and I believe that we're pretty quickly directing planet-Earth into hell in a handbasket! I also write for Fantasy Book Review (, and can be found writing articles for a variety of other sites. Check me out at for more.


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