Combined heat and power

What’s the difference between CHP and cogeneration?

Combined heat and power (CHP) technology is often referred to as cogeneration, but there are important differences. Cogeneration is the process where a simple cycle gas turbine produces electricity and steam—as well as the steam that is used in other processes, such as drying. However, the steam is not used to drive a steam turbine.

CHP combined-cycle power plants can deliver concurrent production of electricity and useful thermal energy from a common fuel. The captured thermal energy (steam or hot water) can be used for processes like heating and cooling, and to generate power for other industrial purposes.

Manufacturers, municipalities, commercial buildings, and institutions including colleges, hospitals, and military bases use CHP to reduce energy costs, increase power reliability, and decrease carbon output. With the broadest gas turbine product portfolio in the industry, GE is uniquely positioned to provide its customers with the right products to provide the required ratio of power to heat for their CHP and cogeneration systems.

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How does CHP work?

CHP produces electricity and useful thermal energy (or heat) at a higher efficiency than could be attained by producing them independently. CHP is not a single technology, but an energy system of individual components that work together to generate electricity and to produce heat that can be utilized in a process.

These components include the prime mover which drives the system, the generator, heat recovery equipment, and electrical interconnection. The prime mover typically identifies the combined heat and power system. Prime movers for CHP systems include reciprocating engines, combustion turbines, steam turbines, microturbines, and fuel cells.

More about cogeneration

How does cogeneration work?

A cogeneration plant is like CHP in the sense that it also generates electricity and produces heat. Cogen technology differs, however, from CHP in that it produces electricity from a simple cycle gas turbine. The gas turbine exhaust energy is then used to produce steam. The steam is then fully used in other processes without any portion routed to drive a steam turbine as is the case in CHP.

How does a CHP power plant work?

A CHP power plant is a decentralized, energy-efficient method of heat and electricity production. CHP plants can be located in an individual building or facility, or they can produce energy for a district or a utility.

In CHP, a fuel is used to drive the prime mover to generate electricity and produce heat. The heat is then used to boil water and generate steam. Some of the steam is used to support a process while the remaining steam is used to drive a steam turbine to generate additional power. In a cogen application, the steam is fully used in a process with no additional power generation. 

Benefits of cogeneration

Similar to CHP, cogeneration technology can deliver more economies and benefits compared to traditional power generation. However, because the cogeneration system does not route steam to produce additional power, it is not as efficient as CHP.

Our cogeneration portfolio

Explore GE’s cogeneration turbines and technology

Aeroderivative gas turbines

GE’s comprehensive lineup of 50 Hz and 60 Hz aeroderivative gas turbines helps provide a dependable energy supply that's safe and flexible.

As the world’s largest manufacturer and supplier of gas turbine technology, GE offers a wide array of equipment options and models to help meet the most challenging energy requirements. These turbines are proven performers in simple and combined-cycle operation for pure power generation, cogeneration, mechanical drive, and waste-to-power. Whether you're generating power for entire cities, electrifying your own operations, or are facing an emergency electricity shortage and need power fast, GE is ready to quickly provide a range of CHP and cogeneration solutions.

Heavy-duty gas turbines

GE’s heavy-duty gas turbines support simple and combined-cycle operation for pure power generation, cogeneration, mechanical drive, and district heating.

GE builds its heavy-duty and aeroderivative gas turbines to be efficient, versatile, and reliable with individual output ranging from 34 MW to 571 MW. Choose from a versatile selection of heavy-duty gas turbines.

Steam turbines

GE is a world leader in the development and application of steam turbine technology, with more than 619 GW of capacity from more than 10,600 installed units worldwide.

The GE steam turbine portfolio spans across all fuels, from gas and coal to nuclear applications – from 100 MW to 1,900MW. Our platforms can accommodate a wide range of site conditions, operational needs, advanced steam cycles and applications. With GE’s technical know-how, our steam turbines can be integrated seamlessly within all kinds of power plants to help ensure our customers' operational success, satisfaction, and profitability.

Customer stories

Learn more about how we’re providing turbines for CHP solutions.

CHP helps ensure healthier operations at a large medical center

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When one of the world’s largest hospital complexes needed a more efficient solution for power, heat, and cooling, they turned to GE. GE’s LM6000 SPRINT CHP system allows Texas Medical Center-Houston to gain increased efficiency from 42% to 80%, cut fossil fuel consumption 61%, and reduce CO2 emissions by more than 305,000 tons per year. The biggest benefit in today’s world of rising healthcare costs? Texas Medical Center will save more than $200 million over 15 years.

University reduces fuel consumption with CHP

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To expand its campus utilities and better manage energy, the University of Texas at Austin needed a solution for efficient power production to help meet campus demand and limit emissions. With GE’s LM2500+ G4 CHP application, the university’s heating and power complex provides 100% of campus electrical, heating, and cooling loads to 18 million square feet of conditioned space. It has successfully reduced fuel consumption and pollutant emissions and achieved 99.9998% plant reliability.

CHP increases power reliability and security for Airport Authority

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The Greater Toronto Airport Authority (GTAA) wanted to go beyond energy self-sufficiency when it considered building its own cogeneration plant. Using two 42-MW GE LM6000PD gas turbines, the GTAA Cogeneration Complex produces steam for airport physical plant heating and cooling as well as electricity for airport facilities and the Ontario Power Authority grid export