Combined heat and power’s role in Solar Economy

Combined heat and power (CHP) production is a significant technological solution to increase energy and resource efficiency in areas with demand for heat, like in the Nordic countries and Russia. In 2011, the share of CHP in Fortum’s total power generation was 29% and in heat production 71%.

Thermal energy covers the production of electricity in CHP plants and in condensing power plants, as well as the production of heat in CHP plants or heating plants. CHP integrates the production of heat and electricity in a single process. Thermal energy production is the most common global electricity production method, while CHP is most advanced in areas with high demand for heat, like in the Nordic countries and Russia. 

As an energy generation process, CHP is flexible in regard to fuels. This means that a CHP process can be applied both to renewable and fossil fuels. 

Resource efficiency driving CHP

Due to increasing scarcity of global natural resources, resource efficiency – both in production and in energy use – will be further emphasised in the transition towards Solar Economy. Because traditional fuel combustion will still be required for a long time, efficiency is a key tool in reducing the environmental burden.

CHP will play an important role in enhancing resource efficiency, as it substantially increases primary energy efficiency. Almost 90% of the energy in CHP can be utilised. The heat generated during power production is utilised in district heating or as steam for industrial processes. CHP also reduces the environmental burden.

Fortum’s CHP production

Fortum has extensive experience in CHP production in Finland, Sweden, Russia, Poland, the Baltics and the UK. Fortum operates 20 CHP plants in Europe and eight mostly gas-fired CHP plants in Russia. In 2011 the share of CHP plants in Fortum’s total power production was 29% and of total heat production 71%. 

The company provides district heat in almost 90 cities, including Stockholm, Sweden; Espoo, Finland; Wroclaw, Poland as well as in Russia in Chelyabinsk and Tjumen areas, where it is the leading district heating supplier. A significant share of Fortum’s district heat is produced in CHP plants. Fortum also produces heat and steam for industry in CHP plants.

Fortum produces electricity and heat from a diverse range of fuels: in Europe from natural gas, coal, oil, biomass, peat and waste-derived fuels, and in Russia from natural gas and coal. 

Fortum is also the leader in the Nordic countries in the use of waste-to-energy production in CHP. Energy recovery forms an integral part of sustainable waste management and simultaneously reduces the amount of waste otherwise deposited to landfills. 

Bio-based CHP – even a more sophisticated solution

Bioenergy (electricity and heat produced from biofuels and biomass) as a renewable energy source and, to a large extent, as a local fuel has an important role in today’s energy system and in the transition towards Solar Economy. Bioenergy is considered an important tool in mitigating climate change, because bioenergy is CO2-neutral when taking into account its life cycle. The advantages of bioenergy are further improved when used in conjunction with CHP.  The use of local bioenergy reduces dependence on imported fuels and supports local economies by employing people.

Advancing CHP production in 2011 

In 2011, Fortum commissioned around 600 MW of new CHP capacity in Russia. 

Fortum has also several biofuel-fired CHP plants under construction: in Klaipeda, Lithuania, in Brista, Sweden, and in Järvenpää, Finland. Increasing the use of bioenergy in co-combustion with coal using gasification or bio-torrefaction was studied at many plants during 2011 and permit applications have been submitted to the authorities for increased use of biomass. 

Fortum's combined heat and power plants in 2011