Detailed guide: Combined heat and power

Updated: Removed invalid helpline number 08453655153

About CHP

Combined heat and power (CHP) is a highly efficient process that captures and utilises the heat that is a by-product of the electricity generation process.
By generating heat and power simultaneously, CHP can reduce carbon emissions by up to 30% compared to the separate means of conventional generation via a boiler and power station.

The heat generated during this process is supplied to an appropriately matched heat demand that would otherwise be met by a conventional boiler. CHP systems are highly efficient, making use of the heat which would otherwise be wasted when generating electrical or mechanical power. This allows heat requirements to be met that would otherwise require additional fuel to be burnt.

For many organisations, CHP is the measure that offers the most significant single opportunity to reduce energy costs and to improve environmental performance with existing users of CHP typically saving around 20% of their energy costs.

What is Combined Heat and Power (CHP)

CHP Outreach Event

Programme: Reducing energy costs with Combined Heat & Power

  • Location: Birmingham
  • Date: Tuesday, 16 June 2015
    The presentations for ‘CHP Outreach workshops’ held in Birmingham has now been published and is available here.

  • Location: Manchester
  • Date: Thursday 12 March 2015

  • Location: London
  • Date: Tuesday 10 March 2015

The presentations for ‘CHP Outreach workshops’ held in London and Manchester are available here.

What are the advantages of CHP?

  • CHP typically has an efficiency of over 80%
  • operators typically saving around 20% on energy bills
  • operators can save up to 30% on carbon emissions
  • transmission and distribution losses are reduced
  • increases fuel supply security

CHP Focus

CHP Focus is a DECC initiative to support the development of combined heat and power in the UK. In this guide you will find comprehensive information on all aspects of cogeneration, whether you are new to CHP or looking for specific information.

CHP Focus Helpline

A free support helpline, providing guidance on CHP:

Helpline Number: 01235 75 3033

Mon-Fri 9am – 4pm

CHP Site Assessment tool

This free tool allows users to get an indicative assessment and review potential options for installing CHP on a particular site. It has been designed for users who have limited knowledge of CHP. It guides the user through the information required to carry out an indicative assessment, showing whether a particular site warrants further investigation.

You can use the CHP Site Assessment Tool to review options for installing CHP on a particular site.

CHP Development Map

The UK CHP Development Map is designed to geographically represent the heat demand across various sectors with the United Kingdom.

You can use the CHP Development Map to find about heat demand for a given area.

CHP Scheme Database

The data published on this site was obtained via the CHPQA programme from schemes who gave their permission for the information to be published. The following data for CHP schemes is published:

  • CHP Site Name
  • Prime Mover
  • Industry Sector
  • Generating Capacity (kWe)
  • Region

You can use the CHP Scheme Database to view existing CHP sites.

CHP Project Development

The development process requires a significant commitment in terms of time, as well as specialist and multidisciplinary expertise, incurring both cost and effort. The development process for a CHP project depends on a scheme’s complexity; see the CHP developers guide for detailed information on packaged, custom and renewable CHP.

CHP Technology

A CHP plant consists essentially of an electrical generator combined with equipment for recovering and using the heat produced by that generator. The generator may be a prime mover such as a gas turbine or a reciprocating engine. Alternatively, it may consist of a steam turbine generating power from high-pressure steam produced in a boiler. In some cases, a CHP scheme may be a combination of prime mover(s), boiler(s) and steam turbine(s). See the detailed guide to CHP technologies for further information on:

  • Packaged CHP
  • Custom CHP
  • Micro CHP and
  • Renewable CHP

CHP Environmental Issues

For any given CHP plant and operating pattern, annual energy consumption/production can be used as the basis for calculating reductions in primary energy consumption and emissions that arise from the installation and operation of the CHP unit. See the detailed guide on environmental aspects of CHP installations including:

  • current legislation
  • relevant atmospheric emissions data, and
  • meeting environmental requirements

CHP – Operation and Maintenance

Once the CHP package has been installed, it needs to be operated and maintained correctly if it is to provide the planned levels of cost savings. There are examples of CHP plants that have not achieved their expectations, due to a lack of effective supervision and maintenance.

This guide on CHP operations and maintenance provides an in depth view of plant operations, plant maintenance, and performance monitoring and assessment.

Financing of CHP

There are several approaches to costing and financing a CHP development.

The guide to CHP Finance reviews methods for establishing the capital, fuel and maintenance costs. The impact of financing CHP on a company’s balance sheet is reviewed. The guide covers the common methods of financing the investment of CHP and show how to compare the projected performance of CHP against conventional methods of heat and electrical generation.

Case Studies

A series of selected CHP case studies are available here.

EC Directive on promotion of CHP in the internal energy market

This Directive, developed by the European Commission (EC) in 2004, aims to promote high-efficiency cogeneration given the potential benefits with regard to saving primary energy, avoiding network losses and reducing emissions, in particular of greenhouse gases. In addition, efficient use of energy by CHP can contribute positively to the security of energy supply. The Directive supports the installation of CHP where there is a significant demand for heat. Its main measures include:

  • a single methodology for establishing high efficiency CHP across EU member states
  • a ‘guarantee of origin’ for electricity from CHP sources
  • obligations on EU member states to analyse national potentials for high-efficiency CHP and report progress on its development
  • evaluation of the different ways EU member states support CHP
  • ensure equitable or preferential access for CHP on the electricity transmission and distribution networks
  • encouraging EU member states to evaluate their own legislative and regulatory framework with a view to removing barriers to the uptake of CHP

Read the Directive in full

“Directive 2004/8/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 11 February 2004” on the promotion of cogeneration based on a useful heat demand in the internal energy market and amending Directive 92/42/EEC or from 5 June 2014 onwards, “European Union Directive 2012/27/EU on energy efficiency”.

UK involvement in the Directive

The department supports the aims of the Directive, and were actively involved in its development. Our priority is to ensure it benefits CHP development in the UK.

Further information

For any technical enquiry, email CHP Focus

Ricardo Energy and Environment provide an enquiry service for CHP developers on behalf of DECC

You can use the public register of Council documents to read about the latest developments.

For more information, email