All thermal power plants, whether they are based on fossil fuel or burn coal, natural gas, or petroleum, convert less than half of their energy into electricity. The rest of the energy is generally lost as excess heat, and is either vented into the atmosphere through cooling towers or dissipated into the environment through a “heat sink,” such as a large lake, river, or ocean. Cogeneration, or combined heat and power (CHP), takes the heat ordinarily generated as a waste product from thermal generation and uses it to provide heat for dwellings and businesses, as well as low-grade process heat. More generally, cogeneration refers to the simultaneous production of two forms of energy from a single fuel source. A simple example for cogeneration is ...

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