Thermal Energy Gains National Bipartisan Steam

Clean energy that reuses waste heat is attracting bipartisan support among policymakers, resulting in the recent introduction of promising federal legislation.

Last month, U.S. Sens. Al Franken (D.-MN) and Kit Bond (R.-MO.) and U.S. Rep. Betty McCollum (D.-MN) introduced HR 5805, the Thermal Renewable Energy and Efficiency Act of 2010, which would offer incentives to promote combined heat and power (CHP) and district energy, a bill strongly endorsed by the International District Energy Association and U.S. Clean Heat and Power Association (USCHPA).

"Expanding our use of renewable thermal energy, exemplified by the model district energy system we have in St. Paul, is one way to provide low, stable heating and cooling prices to consumers, dramatically increase our country's energy efficiency and speed up our transition away from coal and fossil fuels that cause global climate change," said Sen. Franken.

Also recently introduced was the Heat is Power Act, a bipartisan proposal to increase the investment tax credit (ITC) for CHP and waste heat recovery projects from 10% to 30%. Bill sponsors include U.S. Representatives Shelley Berkley (D.-NV), Jay Inslee (D.-WA), Ron Paul (R.-TX), and Paul Tonko (D.-NY). An increase in the ITC has been the subject of lobbying efforts by the USCHPA.

"We shouldn't allow clean energy produced by waste to go wasted," said Rep. Inslee. "By implementing this policy, we will be able to incentivize the deployment of technologies that can capture thermal energy from waste and convert it to electricity."

Close to one-third of the total quantity of energy consumed in the U.S. is used for heating and cooling buildings and industrial processes, representing an opportunity to reuse waste heat and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, either through combined heat and power, renewable thermal energy sources, or other energy-efficient technologies.

This article is reprinted from our partners at the U.S. DOE Gulf Coast Clean Energy Application Center


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