According to a recent study carried out by Euroheat & Power (EHP), the international association of district heating and cooling, the value of energy wasted each year in the European Union amounts to a whopping 1.000 euros per citizen. This amounts to up to 500 billion euros per year, or 638 billion USD.
The study notes that most of the energy consumed in Europe is mostly used as heat, with 37 percent, whereas electricity represents only 21 percent.
With conventional thermal power plant, only one third of the energy is used to produce electricity, and the remaining part is lost. This technology would collect and use the wasted heat.
A previous report by EHP demonstrated that more than half of the primary energy consumed in the European Union is today lost as waste heat.
Harnessing this fantastic amount of heat, which is generally produced by power plants and factories represents a win-win-win situation.
- Win as the environment would benefit from lessened emissions and pollutions ;
- Win, as the Union would buy less fossil fuels from foreign countries, and finally ;
- Win, as the final consumer which would benefit from lower heating bills.
Expanding the use of District Heating or Cooling – also known as Combined heat and power (CHP, or also cogeneration) – would enable the Union to recycle a large part of the 53 percent of the primary energy that is wasted everyday.
Denmark, which currently holds the Presidency of the Union has been developing this energy source since the early 1980s. Currently 60% of space heating and water heating in the country is provided by cogeneration. In 2007, 80.5% of this heat was produced by combined heat and power plants.
Currently, CHP is accounting for only 7% of world power generation. According to the International Energy Agency, CHP could reduce greenhouse gases emissions by ten percent by 2030.
The potential of this energy source for the United States is of 135 GW, or around 12 percent of the total US current needs as Robert and Edward Ayres noted in their book, Crossing the Energy Divide.