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“Cogeneration or combined heat and power (CHP) is the use of a heat engine or power station to generate electricity and useful heat at the same time… Cogeneration is a thermodynamically efficient use of fuel.” The principle seems to be very simple: A fuel is burnt, which drives a generator to produce electricity. The resulting heat is stored in a buffer memory for heating water and supplying the radiators. The plants can use renewable raw materials such as wood pellets, bio diesel and vegetable oil. Vegetable oil as fuel is considered very critical since produced often in countries where rain forest is damaged to harvest it – despite alliances to control it as “RSPO, Round table of Sustainable Palmoil” (see Wikipedia, Germany). Conventional fuels are oil, natural gas and LPG (Flüssiggas/ fluid gas). Technologically different motors drive the CHP plants as Stirling engines, gas turbines and steam engines, ORC (Organic Rankine Cycle)-systems. When big co-generation plants transfer the energy via power lines and district heating pipes, a lot of energy is lost. Therefore small cogeneration plants are of great advantage – installed directly in the rooms of the final user, mostly in the cellar. Then the efficiency is said to be about 80-90 per cent, compared to those from large plants with a reduced claimed efficiency of 45 per cent. See please aswell:

19 May 2015:

In the future, a technology powered by burning fuel cell eventually will achieve the highest efficiency. The latter technology is not powered by a motor or engine instead by chemical reaction in the burning fuel cell (resulting ions and free electrons). This chemical reaction generates heat and electricity to be used. Advantages might be less maintenance, reduction of CO2 Footprint (greenhouse gases) and high efficiencies. new technology still is introduced to the markets.