Implementing decentralized co-generation: The Frankfurt case study

Case Study (57 Kb)


As one of the founders of "Climate Alliance", a group of municipalities in Europe formed to protect the climate, Frankfurt am Main decided in 1991 to set a global objective of cutting CO2 by 50% till 2010. To organize the process of CO2 reduction and to develop an energy concept for Frankfurt, the "Energiereferat" was founded as a local energy agency in 1989.

To achieve the ambitious goal on CO2-reduction, activities concentrated on the following areas:

  • designing low-energy homes with a heat consumption 20 % below the actual national regulations - at present 50 to 75 kWh/m² a - and define strict heat consumption standards for the urban area
  • saving electricity in housing, offices and industry
  • promoting solar thermal- and photovoltaic energy and
  • systematically help implementing small or medium size decentralized co-generation units

Summary of Results

Experience in Frankfurt demonstrated that co-generation could assist communities in reducing CO2-emissions and improving energy efficiency. The 53 plants in operation reduce CO2 in Frankfurt by more than 60.000 tons per annum.

The great number of already realized projects as well as the long list of further possible sites for co-generation plants shows clearly that Frankfurt has at least a potential for further co-generation units with an additional electric capacity of 20 to 30 MW.

Because of falling electricity prices after the liberalization of the electricity market in Germany the number of new co-generation plants has dropped considerably. Statements from various industries indicate that a serious number of co-generation plants have been shut-down because they could not compete with electricity prices from central power plants based on marginal costs of production.

To counteract this trend it is necessary to enforce regulations on a national - or European - level to improve the economic conditions for one of the most effective measures on CO2 reduction.

The "Frankfurt Case Study" demonstrated that - with adequate general economic conditions - local energy agencies could assist to improve implementation of co-generation facilities.