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The move away from nuclear and fossil-fuel energy will only succeed if we can get the transition to heat under control.” With these words, Barbara Hendricks, Germany's Minister of Environment opened the German Heating Conference last year. After all, heat, with its 58 percent, makes up the lion's share of Germany’s demand for energy.

Under the keywords "sector coupling" experts are calling for more efficient contact between the electricity and heating markets to advance the transition to renewables. In this context, the German government recently affirmed its goal to increase the share of combined heat and power (CHP) in total current generation to 25 percent. The goal is set for to be achieved by 2020; however, at the moment the share of CHP in net power generation is at around 16 percent.

Falling electricity rates have caused the number of CHP installations to stagnate recently. The new CHP law which goes into effect on January 1, 2016 should change things. According to this, installations, such as those in the industrial sector, that generate electricity for their own use will not receive any subsidies above 50 kW rated power and industries generating their own power will be burdened with fees under the renewable energy law. However, companies that supply the public grid will receive a marked increase in subsidies. Subsidies are also provided until 2019 to compensate for marginal electricity revenue. "One expects that this provision in the new law will at least lead to longer operational life for many existing installations," believes energy consultant Enerko. However, when choosing a time to invest, it is important to realize that support is capped at 1.5 billion euros total for all supplemental payments per calendar year.

The power industry is predicting long-term growth for decentralized energy generation. According to a survey carried out by the consultancy CTG commissioned by the BDEW (Federal Association of the Energy and Water Industry), companies see the greatest potential in decentralized heat and local heat concepts, and in providing energy advice to customers that simultaneously generate and consume power (prosumers). Those surveyed anticipate that block-type thermal power stations, photovoltaic installations, heat storage facilities, power-to-heat, and solar heat installations will be marketable in ten years without subsidies.

Visitors to Energy 2016 can appraise the efficiency of current CHP installations at the "Decentralized Energy Supply" display. This special display ranges from power generation with wind and solar installations, to CHP, trigeneration, virtual power plants and direct marketing of renewable energy. State-of-the-art block-type thermal power stations are one highlight presented by Sokratherm and 2G in Hall 27 among other things. Unlike large-scale power plants these power stations can be turned on and off within seconds or regulated to deal with partial loads. 2G has CHP plants ranging from 20 to 2,000 kW electric output in its portfolio. Sokratherm has delivered over 1,300 cogeneration compact modules with a 50 to 530 kW electric and 80 to 686 kW thermal output range around the world. The two GG 140 S modules that Sokratherm installed at the industrial handle manufacturer Rhode in Nörten-Hardenberg received the "CHP Unit of the Year 2014" award.

All major CHP manufacturers also have CCHP plants in their portfolios: By-product heat is transformed in absorption refrigerators for cooling. This satisfied the increasing need for cooling in many businesses, such as data processing centers or the food industry, economically. In addition, CCHP extends the service life of block-type thermal power stations.