The trigen system at Central Park is now operational.

By Tina Perinotto and Cameron Jewell

21 November 2013 — Sydney has notched up a major sustainable precinct coup, with Australia’s first private  trigeneration system at Central Park now operational.

In an announcement on Thursday, joint venture developers Frasers Property and Sekisui House said the commissioning of the first of two 1.1-megawatt gas turbines was now complete.

Thermal energy was already being delivered to residents at One Central Park and Park Lane, and to retailers in the recently-opened Central retail mall, including chilled water piped directly to Woolworths’ for its refrigeration units.

The system has also been designed to allow connection to the City of Sydney’s city-wide energy network. There is also potential for future export of excess thermal energy to other facilities in the area.

The news will be good for the sustainable property industry, keen to see another low-emissions energy system under way and it will also be a fillip for the City of Sydney, which has struggled with ambitious but fraught plans to provide a more sustainable energy system for the city.

Other winners will be the consultants on the project who now have a shiny new calling card for their capability: consulting engineers and precinct-wide sustainability consultant WSP; builder Total Construction; and Patrick Dale’s Aeris Capital, which provided the commercial and financial nous for the $26.5 million environmental upgrade agreement that underpinned part of the deal and included Eureka Funds Management, ANZ, Low Carbon Australia and the City of Sydney.

Brookfield Cogen Australia is acting project manager and understood to be a front runner to be owner/operator, after an expressions of interest campaign. Its recent acquisition, Flow Systems, is engaged as provider of the precinct wide water recycling system for One Central Park.

Apartment owners have  been promised that charges for energy will be no more than regular energy costs, with the developers saying they have gone to “great lengths” to ensure this. Bills will be managed the Owners Corporations through strata levies.

At full capacity, the commissioned turbine will produce 1120 kilowatt-hours of electricity – enough energy to power around 1250 homes.

When the trigen system is complete, and the additional 1.1MW turbine comes online, the system will deliver around 136,000 tonnes of CO2-equivalent greenhouse gas emission savings over its 25-year life.

Waste heat will be used to heat hot water and generate cold water, and to deliver space heating/cooling.

The complete 2.2MW system will be able to provide all thermal needs of the buildings in the Central Park precinct, including commercial and retail, and will provide electricity to the proposed Block 4S student housing building and the heritage Brewery Yard building.

Located under the heritage Brewery Yard building, the system will use six architecturally-designed cooling towers on the roof of the Brewery Yard building to vent steam from the plant.

According to WSP senior mechanical engineer Joseph Durning another advantage is that the system allows the number of chillers to be slashed.

“With a Central Thermal Plant you take all of the chillers out of the buildings so we are going from 31 chillers down to seven and the seven chillers are 20 per cent more efficient,” Mr Durning said. “This saves a lot of capital cost and space and reduces total power consumption and emissions.”

An ambitious agenda

According to the Central Park developers the delivery of low-emission thermal energy to Central Park achieves a key component of the precinct’s ambitious green agenda.

Following are highlights of a facts sheet on the trigen system supplied by Frasers Property and Sekisui House:

Detailed computer modelling and a scale model of the site was produced for wind tunnel testing to determine the effects of the exhaust and waste heat rejection on the surrounding neighbourhood.

The result has been the inclusion of an advanced catalytic system that removes harmful emissions from the exhaust before it leaves the facility. This system means that the exhaust air is well below the pollution levels stipulated by the NSW Department of Environment and Heritage and City of Sydney guidelines.

Requirements for electricity, hot water and cooling water throughout the lifetime of the project were evaluated and the model used to simulate a range of sustainable technologies including the central thermal and electrical plant with tri-generation, thermal storage, solar tubes, photovoltaics and biomass. The modelling consisted of several exercises.

Modelling assisted in key system design selections and helped maximise energy savings and the reduction the carbon footprint of the Central Park precinct. This modelling was undertaken using EnergyPRO and advance systems that allowed the developer and consulting team to make selections of key system components.

Another key driver was the modelling to determine the Central Park precinct’s anticipated daily and peak thermal loads. All of the development buildings were modelled utilising industry-recognised dynamic simulation modelling software, Integrated Environmental Solutions. This software allowed the thermal plant designer to create a realistic 3D virtual representation of the Central Park precinct.

Buildings, facades, surface geometries, components (including doors and windows), shading devices and adjacent buildings in the surrounding built environment were incorporated in order to represent overshadowing characteristics.

To assist in construction and coordination the consultant team utilised the latest in Building Information Modelling by producing 3D co-ordinated electronic drawings through a program called Revit. The software was used to speed up the construction and build process.

The entire facility was modelled by using an electronic 3D drawing package, an AutoCAD product called CADWorx.