Alphabetical index
This page is available in 5 languages

We are migrating the content of this website during the first semester of 2014 into the new EUR-Lex web-portal. We apologise if some content is out of date before the migration. We will publish all updates and corrections in the new version of the portal.

Do you have any questions? Contact us.


The energy-saving potential of cogeneration is currently under-utilised in the European Union (EU). The purpose of this Directive is to facilitate the installation and operation of electrical cogeneration plants (a technology allowing the production in one process of heat and electricity) in order to save energy and combat climate change.


Directive 2004/8/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 11 February 2004 on the promotion of cogeneration based on a useful heat demand in the internal energy market and amending Directive 92/42/EEC [See amending act].


The principle of cogeneration

Cogeneration is a technique allowing the production of both heat and electricity. The heat is in the form of high pressure water vapour or hot water.

An electricity/heat cogeneration plant operates by means of gas turbines or engines. Natural gas is the form of primary energy most commonly used to fuel cogeneration plants. However, renewable energy sources and waste can also be used.

Unlike traditional power stations where exhaust gases are directly evacuated by the chimney, the gases produced by cogeneration are first cooled before being evacuated by the chimney, releasing their energy into a hot water/steam circuit.

Electricity/heat cogeneration installations can achieve energy efficiency levels of around 90 %. The development of cogeneration could avoid the emission of some 250 million tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions in 2020.

Promotion of cogeneration

The objective of this Directive is to establish a transparent common framework to promote and facilitate the installation of cogeneration plants. This overall objective comprises two specific aims:

  • in the short term, the Directive should make it possible to consolidate existing cogeneration installations and promote new plants;
  • in the medium to long term, the Directive should create the necessary framework for high efficiency cogeneration to reduce emissions of CO2 and other substances and to contribute to sustainable development.

There are already examples of regulatory developments in some Member States, such as Belgium (green certificates and cogeneration quotas), Spain (a decree on the sale of cogeneration electricity) or Germany (a law on cogeneration).

The Commission has established harmonised efficiency reference values for separate production of electricity and heat (see under “Related Acts”). Member States must ensure, on the basis of the harmonised efficiency reference values and within six months of their adoption, that the origin of electricity produced from high-efficiency cogeneration can be guaranteed according to objective, transparent and non-discriminatory criteria laid down by each Member State.

Member States must ensure that the guarantee of origin of the electricity enables producers to demonstrate that the electricity they sell is produced from high-efficiency cogeneration.

A guarantee of origin must:

  • specify the lower calorific value of the fuel source from which the electricity was produced, specify the use of the heat generated together with the electricity and the dates and places of production;
  • specify the quantity of electricity from high-efficiency cogeneration that the guarantee represents (this quantity being calculated in accordance with Annex II);
  • specify the primary energy savings calculated in accordance with Annex III based on harmonised efficiency reference values established by the Commission.

Member States must analyse the national potential for the application of high-efficiency cogeneration.


Cogeneration saves energy and improves security of supply. However, there is still considerable unexploited potential for cogeneration in the Member States. Moreover cogeneration would make it possible to:

  • reduces losses on the electrical grid because cogeneration installations are usually closer to the consumption point;
  • increase competition among electricity producers;
  • set up new enterprises;
  • save energy in isolated or extremely remote areas.


ActEntry into forceDeadline for transposition in the Member StatesOfficial Journal
Directive 2004/8/EC



OJ L 52 of 21.2.2004

Amending actEntry into forceDeadline for transposition in the Member StatesOfficial Journal
Regulation (EC) No 219/2009



OJ L 87 of 31.3.2009

Successive amendments and corrections to Directive 2004/8/EC have been incorporated into the basic text. This consolidated version is for information only.


Proposal for a Directive

Proposal for a Directive of the European Parliament and of the Council of 22 June 2011 on energy efficiency and repealing Directives 2004/8/EC and 2006/32/EC [COM(2011) 370 final – Not published in the Official Journal].
The European Commission has set itself the overall objective of reducing energy consumption by 20 % by 2020. To that end, it proposes a new energy efficiency strategy which follows on from its Energy Efficiency Plan 2011. This Proposal for a Directive includes elements of that Plan with a view to making them legally binding.
It also proposes to repeal Directives 2004/8/EC and 2006/32/EC insofar as they no longer make it possible to tap energy saving potential to the full.


Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament and the Council –Europe can save more energy by combined heat and power generation [COM(2008) 771 final – Not published in the Official Journal officiel].
The European Commission reports on the application of Directive 2004/8/EC in the Member States. 22 Member States have partially transposed the Directive and published reports on their cogeneration potential, and on the administrative changes that have been implemented. 11 Member States have communicated an analysis of their national potential.
The Commission underlines the obstacles impeding the development of cogeneration and states that further efforts are still required. It therefore invites Member States to apply the Directive as a matter of urgency. Infringement procedures could be implemented if this is not the case.


Directive 2010/31/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 19 May 2010 on the energy performance of buildings [Official Journal L 153 of 18.6.2010].

Directive 2001/77/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 27 September 2001 on the promotion of electricity produced from renewable energy sources in the internal electricity market [Official Journal L 283 of 27.10.2001].

Council Directive 92/42/EEC of 21 May 1992 on efficiency requirements for new hot-water boilers fired with liquid or gaseous fuels [Official Journal L 167 of 22.6.1992].


Commission Decision 2007/74/EC of 21 December 2006 establishing harmonised efficiency reference values for separate production of electricity and heat in application of Directive 2004/8/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council [Official Journal L 32 of 6 February 2007].

Commission Decision 2008/952/EC of 19 November 2008, establishing detailed guidelines for the implementation and application of Annex II to Directive 2004/8/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council [Official Journal L 338 of 17 December 2008].

Last updated: 18.10.2011
Legal notice | About this site | Search | Contact | Top