13 May 2011 09:05:01
Co-generation crucial to low-carbon future of heating
Renewable energy has an important role to play in the world's low-carbon future, a new report from the International Energy Agency (IEA) has claimed, particularly in terms of supplying heat to homes and industry.
According to its latest figures, heat represents 47 percent of global energy consumption, compared with 17 percent for electricity, 27 percent for transport and the remainder covering non-energy use, such as oil for plastic production.
The IEA believes that the issue of dwindling oil, coal and gas resources – as well as the CO2
emissions with which these fuels are linked – could be addressed with wider adoption of co-generation techniques.
Co-generation is the simultaneous production of both electricity and heat from a single fuel. Heat can then be delivered to consumers through district heating networks – underground pipes carrying hot water or steam.
Jayen Veerapen and Milou Beerepoot, authors of the IEA report, said that while electricity supply is a crucial aspect of the energy debate, the impact of heat supply must not be overlooked.
"If the system is to be decarbonised, changing the heat supply will also need to be considered. Both co-generation and renewables are technologies that are relevant to heat supply," they wrote.