On June 1, U.S. Secretary of Energy Steven Chu presented a plan to use $256 million in stimulus funding to improve the efficiency of energy use in the manufacturing and information technology industries. The largest portion of the funding, $156 million, is devoted to the demonstration and deployment of more efficient power systems, such as combined heat and power, district energy systems, and waste energy recovery. An additional $50 million was allocated for projects that increase the efficiency of information and communication technology and $50 million for the development of advanced industrial materials that can be used in clean energy systems.

"Supporting the development of the latest industrial technologies plays an important role in helping U.S. industry to lead the world in energy efficiency and productivity," Secretary Chu noted. "Working together with American manufacturing and IT industries, we will be able to create new jobs, reduce industrial energy use and limit damaging greenhouse gas emissions."

EESI recently hosted a Congressional briefing about the role of district energy and combined heat and power systems (CHP). These systems can achieve 80 to 90 percent efficiency. Conventional power plants are about 30-35 percent efficient, with two-thirds of the energy being lost through waste heat which is vented to air or water.