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Combined Heat and Power (CHP) and Efficient District Heating and Cooling (DHC) Working Group

The Combined Heat and Power (CHP) and Efficient District Heating and Cooling (DHC) Working Group increased awareness about the efficiency advantages and vast potential of CHP and district energy to:

  • Reduce fuel consumption through CHP compared to the same amount of products in separated electricity and heat units
  • Reduce emissions of greenhouse gases and other air pollutants harmful to the environment and human health
  • Increase the use of renewable resources for heat and power production
  • Complement the use of intermittent renewable energy sources
  • Reduce dependence on imported energy and utilize local resources to increase energy security
  • Increase economic competitiveness and increase investment in infrastructure

The Working Group also increased and facilitated the adoption and implementation of CHP and district energy through activities such as targeted education and outreach, the identification of enabling policies, and the development of best practices and policy toolkits.

The CHP and Efficient DHC Working Group was led by Finland. It worked in close cooperation with the International Energy Agency (IEA) CHP/DHC Collaborative.


CHP is a process by which primary energy is transformed simultaneously into both heat and electrical energy. This process is also known as cogeneration. The resulting heat can be utilized in both buildings and industrial processes, typically through water or steam, both of which are convenient for DHC.

CHP plants minimize the use of fuel energy and achieve total efficiency of greater than 70%. This is in sharp contrast to conventional condensing power plants, which generally have a total efficiency below 40%. CHP plants also reduce emissions of greenhouse gases and other harmful air pollutants.

Primary energy sources can include a wide range of fuels, including biomass, waste, fossil fuels, geothermal, and solar energy. DHC networks allow for the distribution of heating and cooling across a multi-building area. If designed efficiently—and particularly if coupled to CHP facilities—DHC networks can reduce the energy intensity and cost of these services considerably. DHC also saves room in buildings (it does not require boilers or chillers) and stops the noise of blowers outside of buildings. Buildings also look cleaner without cooling condensers on the outer wall.


The objective of the Working Group was to increase awareness and adoption of CHP and district energy, as a means to reduce fuel consumption and emissions of greenhouse gases and other air pollutants harmful to the environment and human health and to increase the use of renewable sources for heat and power production. This was done in cooperation with the IEA CHP/DHC Collaborative group in CHP/DHC Country Scorecard and co-workshop activities and support to ETP2016. To accomplish this objective, the Working Group pursued the following activities:

  • Evaluated the national potential for CHP to reduce overall fuel consumption and emissions of greenhouse gases and other harmful air pollutants in each participating country, both in industrial and DHC applications
    • Determined the potential of CHP using renewable energy
    • Determined the potential to integrate CHP in both industrial and DHC applications
  • Identified market and regulatory barriers to further use of CHP and efficient DHC, and developed policy tool kits to help policy makers reduce or overcome those barriers
  • Led targeted education and outreach to users and policy makers to promote CHP and efficient DHC
  • Developed best practices and shared information and experiences with new technologies or processes such as the following:
    • Using CHP and efficient DHC with renewable fuels
    • Designing CHP plants to provide cooling
    • Designing CHP plants to operate with low-temperature DHC networks
    • Flexible CHP operation in parallel with integrated renewable energy sources and their connections to the energy system
    • Determining the impact of electric vehicles on CHP usability

Activities and Resources

Brussels Workshop - Sustainable Urban Energy Systems

The GSEP CHP/DHC Working Group hosted a Sustainable Urban Energy Systems Workshop in cooperation with the International Energy Agency (IEA) CHP/DHC Collaboration on 25 February 2015. The workshop was one of six side events at the European Commission’s Heating and Cooling in the European Energy Transition conference in Brussels, Belgium. More than 40 participants from industry, academia, governments, and international institutions attended the workshop, which explored how CHP and DHC can create a more sustainable, flexible, and integrated energy system.

Helsinki Workshop

On 26–27 November 2013, the Clean Energy Ministerial’s GSEP CHP/DHC Working Group held a joint workshop with the International Energy Agency CHP/DHC Collaborative in Helsinki, Finland. This workshop was a follow-up to one held in Paris in February 2013, where both groups agreed on roles and responsibilities for cooperation. The workshop brought together participants from industry, governments, international organizations, and academia who are interested in promoting CHP and efficient DHC for a more sustainable and integrated energy system. Discussions were focused on CHP/DHC future trends and overcoming the barriers for further deployment of these technologies.


CHP/DHC Country Scorecards were developed in cooperation with IEA. Find the latest scorecards here.

Reports and Presentations

25 February 2015 Workshop

26–27 November 2013 Workshop


Participation in the Working Group included the European Commission, Finland, Russia, Sweden, and the United States; the international organizations Euroheat & Power, the International District Energy Association (IDEA), and IEA; and the companies Delta, Fortum, and Helsingin Energia. Partners met in person once a year and utilized audio or video conferences for additional communication.