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New World Survey Of Clean Decentralized Energy Systems

Articles / Combined Heat and Power
Posted by 2 on Nov 04, 2002 - 10:36 AM

The World’s first survey of decentralized energy (DE) development, published recently by the World Alliance for Decentralized Energy (WADE), reveals that its share of global power generation is only around 7%. Other findings of the World Survey of Decentralized Energy –2002/03 suggest that DE market growth is seriously constrained by persistent barriers to efficiency in electricity markets in most countries.

A parallel analysis co-authored by WADE Chairman Tom Casten1 demonstrates in conclusive fashion that substantial cost and environmental benefits will be achieved by choosing DE to satisfy future electrical capacity requirements rather than central power.

Two key findings show that meeting future US electricity demand growth through DE instead of central power would, by 2020:

  • Reduce electricity supply costs by around 3c/kWh. Much of the cost saving arises from DE’s avoidance of the need for costly transmission and distribution systems.
  • Cut CO2 emissions by over 45% compared to central power. Commenting on the survey, WADE Director Michael Brown said: ‘Optimizing Future Heat & Power Generation’, Tom Casten & Martin Collins, October 2002; available at [1]

    “The ongoing dominance of traditional central power is preventing both developing and industrialised countries from benefiting from the economic-environment ‘win-win’ which DE WADE press release 22 October 2002 2 can deliver. Globally, central power generation wastes as much energy as that used by the entire worldwide transportation sector. This waste is causing substantial social, economic and environmental damage. Our new survey highlights that the key to reducing this waste lies with energy policymakers and regulators, in particular those responsible for power sector reform. The barriers to efficiency can be removed” One of the most substantial benefits of DE, both high efficiency cogeneration and distributed renewable energy systems, is that it reduces carbon emissions. The survey indicates that a doubling of the DE share of global power generation to 14% by 2012 would reduce global CO2 emissions by more than 720 Mt/year – over 25% of the required cut to achieve Kyoto compliance.

    The survey identifies six key barriers which recur time and again around the world:

    1. Power utility efficiency is not rewarded;
    2. Electricity sales to third parties are often illegal;
    3. Electricity prices do not reflect overall demand at a particular time;
    4. Backup charges are too high;
    5. Policymakers ignore transmission and distribution costs;
    6. Power sector reform ignores the benefits of DE. To enable future developmental and environmental objectives to be achieved, policymakers should address these barriers and ensure:

    1. Grid access on fair and transparent term for all DE systems;
    2. Market-based rules that encourage greater efficiency of electricity brand heat generation;
    3. Full price recognition for the locational value and environmental benefits of DE;
    4. Incentives for monopoly electricity companies to reduce fuel use and improve efficiency;
    5. The establishment of well-resourced DE promotion organizations in every country.

    What is Decentralized Energy?

    WADE defines decentralized energy (DE) as the high efficiency production of electricity (and heating/cooling where possible) near the point of use, irrespective of size, fuel or technology.

    Two key divisions of DE are:

  • High efficiency cogeneration with capacities from 1 kilowatt to over 400 megawatts (and which include reciprocating engines, gas turbines, steam turbines, Stirling engines, fuel cells and microturbines).

  • Many renewable energy systems and energy recycling technologies which capture otherwise wasted energy. These can include photovoltaic and biomass systems, on-site wind and water turbine generators.

    For more information about WADE please contact
    Michael Brown Executive Director
    15 Great Stuart Street
    EH3 7TP, UK +44 131 625 3333

    see For full WADE details

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