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Combined Heat and Power Partnership

Output-Based Regulations

Output-Based Regulations Resources

Output-based environmental regulations (OBR) can be an important tool for promoting an array of innovative energy technologies that can help achieve national environmental and energy goals by reducing fuel use. OBR encourage energy efficiency and clean energy supply such as combined heat and power (CHP) by relating emissions to the productive output of the energy-consuming process. The goal of OBR is to encourage the use of fuel conversion efficiency as an air pollution control measure. While OBR have been used for years in regulating some industrial processes, they have only recently begun to be applied to electricity and steam generation.

Most environmental regulations for power generators and boilers have established emissions limits based on heat input or exhaust concentration: that is, they measure emissions in pounds per million British thermal units (lb/MMBtu) of heat input or in parts per million (ppm) of pollutants in the exhaust stream. These traditional input-based limits do not account for the pollution prevention benefits of process efficiency in ways that encourage reduced energy use.

OBR are particularly important for recognizing the significant energy and environmental benefits of CHP. CHP units produce both electrical and thermal output. OBR can be designed to explicitly account for both types of output in the compliance computation (accounting for thermal output is particularly important because CHP achieves its superior energy-efficiency by producing both electricity and thermal energy from a single fuel source).

If you would like assistance on how states can design OBR, please contact Neeharika Naik-Dhungel (naik-dhungel.neeharika@epa.gov).

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