Co-Generation: Clean as wind, reliable as coal

From Solve Climate

Co-generation takes energy that is wasted or dissipated by heavy industry and uses it to generate power.

We think we could make about 19 to 20 percent of U.S. electricity with heat that is currently thrown away by industry.

Tom Casten, chairman, Recycled Energy Development

One major barrier to widespread adoption of co-generation is the same as that facing home solar. It’s difficult and sometimes impossible to sell the power back into the grid. But imagine the savings, both in dollars and greenhouses gases, if all that wasted energy was turned into electricity.

  • DJ

    More and more people are beginning to realize the opportunities for conservation– reducing or reusing what is now wasted. Twenty percent of our power from wasted heat? Wow.

    About half of all energy used in this country is wasted (or could be otherwise eliminated). Add to that the energy sources currently viable and being used elsewhere that are not used here (like sewage in Sweden) and we have no business saying we can’t power our nation cleanly. We don’t know that because we haven’t tried.

    But here’s the question: all these the conservation and clean energy production technologies exist, so why aren’t we using them? Does the fossil fuel industry really have that much of a lock on our government and our economy?

  • I’m associated with Recycled Energy Development, which is Casten’s company. You’re right that it’s tough for companies that recycle energy to sell their excess power and heat, whether to the grid or — even tougher — to neighboring buildings. The reason for this, though, is regulations that give monopoly protection to utilities. There’s nothing inevitable about this state of affairs. But it is how utilities want it to stay. If we allow more efficient alternatives to emerge, we’ll slash greenhouse emissions and power costs at the same time.

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