New trade organization focused on waste heat recovery

By Anna Austin | February 08, 2012

The Heat is Power Association, a new trade organization focused on the wide-scale development of a waste heat-to-power (WH2P) market, has officially launched and is welcoming new members.

Executive Director Kelsey Southerland said the association began forming loosely in 2010 after the realization that there was no organization representing the WH2P market.  “We decided the group needed to become formal with a structured membership in order to take our message to the next level,” she said.

So what is that message? “Our ultimate goal is the full development of a waste heat market in the U.S.,” Southerland said. “We can take massive amounts of wasted heat and make power out of it…its incredibly valuable, especially to countries going through economic crises and looking for more domestic- based power.”

The U.S. has fallen behind other countries in regard to energy policies, Southerland pointed out, so for now the group’s main focus is within the country. “We see waste heat recovery or WH2P more prevalent in other countries like Europe so we do have more of an interest in North America, but ultimately we would like to see a global market.”

The association believes that capturing waste heat’s potential could generate as much as $3 billion in annual savings for American industry, create 160,000 new American jobs, and power around 10 million homes.

Shorter term goals of the Heat is Power Association include convincing policymakers of the emissions-free characteristics of WH2P. “This is something that’s been left out of the conversation,” Southerland said. “Staffers on the Hill and state government officials have sometimes heard of cogeneration or combined heat and power, but almost no one has heard of waste heat recovery or WH2P, and if they have, they usually don’t understand that it’s an emissions free technology.”  

Additionally, WH2P doesn’t discriminate against the original energy source, so the opportunities are vast. “For example, Organic Rankine Cycles are a heat exchanging device and don’t care where the heat is coming from, because it can make emission-free electricity from it,” Southerland said.

Unfortunately, WH2P doesn’t reap the benefits in industrial settings as it would in a geothermal plant or biomass facility, Southerland pointed out, and that’s something the Heat is Power Association would like to see changed. “At a biomass facility it would receive a 30 percent tax credit or production tax credit, but when the same exact technology is installed in an industrial facility, it receives nothing,” she said. “Current policies aren’t encouraging our country to use all of the energy we have for what we need.”

The Heat is Power Association is advocating aggressively for the passage of the Heat is Power Act (HR 2812), which was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives in August 2011. If passed, it waste heat would have equal tax parity to other sources capable of generating emission-free electricity.

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