Combined Heat and Power


Combined Heat and Power (CHP), or cogeneration, is the simultaneous generation of electrical or mechanical power and useful thermal energy from a single fuel source. CHP systems use thermal energy that would have otherwise gone to waste, thereby raising the total efficiency of the fuel source. This increase in efficiency can lead to reduced fuel use, pollution, and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions when compared to systems that obtain their power and thermal energy separately.

CHP's potential benefits for California include:

  • Greater fuel efficiency.
  • Reduced GHG emissions.
  • Avoiding losses from transmission and distribution.
  • Increased reliability for critical facilities, such as hospitals, data centers, prisons, and wastewater treatment plants.
  • Support for grid stability in areas that require local generation.
  • Economic benefits for manufacturing and industry, which help keep businesses and jobs in California.

Developing CHP Resources

In recognition of the potential benefits of CHP, California has set ambitious goals for developing CHP resources:

  • The California Air Resources Board’s (ARB) Climate Change Scoping Plan, pursuant to Assembly Bill 32 (Núñez, Chapter 488, Statutes of 2006), sets a target of 4,000 megawatts (MW) of additional CHP capacity, and 6.7 million metric tons of carbon dioxide of associated annual GHG emissions reductions, by 2020.

  • Assembly Bill 1613 (Blakeslee, Chapter 713, Statutes of 2007), the Waste Heat and Carbon Emissions Reduction Act, creates a feed-in tariff to incentivize the development of small CHP (no larger than 20 MW).

  • Governor Jerry Brown’s Clean Energy Jobs Plan calls for an additional 6,500 MW of new CHP capacity by 2030.

    Information about the Implementation of the Waste Heat and Carbon Emissions Reduction Act is now available on our EnergyArchive website.

  • California Public Utilities Commission’s Qualifying Facilities and CHP Program Settlement Agreement mandates that California’s three largest investor-owned utilities achieve 4.8 million metric tons of carbon dioxide of the GHG reductions recommended in the Climate Change Scoping Plan.

  • California also directly supports CHP development through the Self Generation Incentive Program (SGIP), which provides financial incentives for a variety of small-scale distributed energy resources – including both conventional- and renewable-fueled CHP.

For more information, please contact:

Bryan Neff
Electricity Analysis Office
1516 Ninth Street, MS #20
Sacramento, CA 95814
Phone: 916- 654-4414

Additional Reading

Neff , Bryan. A New Generation of Combined Heat and Power: Policy Planning for 2030. 2012. California Energy Commission. CEC‐200‐2012‐005.

California Energy Commission, 2012. 2012 Integrated Energy Policy Report Update Chapter 3 – Combined Heat and Power Assessment and Barriers. Publication Number: CEC-100-2012-001-CMF. (PDF file, 108 pages, 3.1 MB).

Hedman, Bruce, Ken Darrow, Eric Wong, Anne Hampson. ICF International, Inc. 2012. Combined Heat and Power: 2011‐2030 Market Assessment. California Energy Commission. CEC‐200‐2012‐002-REV.

Darrow, Ken, Bruce Hedman, Anne Hampson. 2009. Combined Heat and Power Market Assessment. California Energy Commission, PIER Program. CEC‐500‐2009‐094‐F.

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Combined Heat and Power Partnership
Catalog of CHP Technologies. 2008

Proceeding Information

Additional Resources




Combined Heat and Power Listserv

Subscribe to receive e-mail notifications

You will receive an email requesting that you confirm your subscription.