ABI Research: Distributed Generation Needs Efficiency Boost From Cogeneration

Cogeneration is the combination of heating, cooling and electrical generation. It increases efficiency by using waste heat from high temperature technologies for HVAC.

Oyster Bay, NY - December 8, 2005 - Despite limited growth in the market for sub-utility stationary power generation products, a new study from ABI Research finds that some suppliers may still have a bright future. Fuel cells, microturbines, wind and solar power have been heralded as technologies that could help provide the world with cleaner, cheaper power. Yet the market for smaller electric products remains concentrated around the conventional reciprocating engine, with its low cost but poor efficiency and emissions quality.

Why has progress towards cleaner energy and distributed generation stalled? ABI Research senior analyst Dan Benjamin replies: "Government subsidies have helped technologies such as photovoltaics, and customers in regions with good winds will look closely at wind turbines because there is a demonstrable return on investment. But consumers will generally choose the most cost-effective technology, and most of the time (though not always), clean technologies don't compete on cost yet."

After years of promises that failed to deliver, particularly for fuel cells, is it time to start writing off these technologies? Benjamin believes that developers cannot afford to wait for government subsidies that may never arrive. "Fuel cells and microturbines need to be more cost-competitive. We believe the easiest way to improve is through cogeneration."

Cogeneration is the combination of heating, cooling and electrical generation. It increases efficiency by using waste heat from high temperature technologies for HVAC. This is especially important for developers of fuel cell technology. "The market for PEM fuel cells to replace backup generators is at least decades away," says Benjamin. "But higher temperature fuel cell technologies such as solid oxide could offer much higher combined efficiencies without requiring hydrogen fuel."

ABI Research's new offering "Sub-Utility Stationary Power" examines the prospects of each electricity generation technology and provides regional shipment forecasts by technology through 2013. Despite optimism about cogeneration, the report finds that the shipments of these high-temperature technologies will remain quite limited over the next few years.

Founded in 1990 and headquartered in New York, ABI Research maintains global operations that support annual research programs, intelligence services and market reports in wireless, automotive, semiconductors, broadband, and energy. For more information please visit www.abiresearch.com, or call +1.516.624.2500.

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