Blair Healy at a recent media event

6 December 2011 Cogent Energy has been confirmed to deliver the first of the City of Sydney’s ambitious low carbon energy systems. The news follows just weeks after the company said that at Dandenong in Melbourne’s south west the nation’s first district scale trigeneration precinct over a massive five block greenfields site would be operational by mid next year.

The Sydney announcement came on Tuesday after a vote late Monday and was accompanied by forecasts of huge financial savings as well as greenhouse gas savings.

Lord Mayor Clover Moore said the savings could be $1.5 billion over the full scale of the program.

Cogent Energy founder and manager Blair Healy said Cogent and parent company Origin Energy were delighted with the Sydney announcement even though fine details have yet to be hammered out.

“Origin and Cogent are obviously very excited about  – and very committed and we expect to start negotiations with the City of Sydneyvery soon.

Jim Galvin, Origin retail executive, business markets said the announcement would raise the bar.
“With this trigeneration project, Origin will raise the bar once again, demonstrating just what is possible in generating and using energy efficiently, Mr Galvin said”

The first part of the Sydney project will involve a gas fired trigeneration power systems for  a swathe of about 200 council owned buildings plus the first of five “low carbon zones” for the city, CBD North around Martin Place and George Street.

It will include the council’s five aquatic centres, the Town Hall precinct, and Customs House.

Ms Moore said the trigen system would produce 40 to 60 per cent lower greenhouse gas emissions and be a more efficient energy producer.

A Low Carbon Clover Moore

“It will also reduce energy costs – local trigeneration avoids part of the network charges, which currently make up 50 per cent of the average electricity bill,” Ms Moore said.

“These charges are set to rise to 60 per cent in the next two years as network companies upgrade the poles, wires and substations of the electricity grid.”

A study by the University of Technology, Sydney estimated this could save up to $1.5 billion in avoided capital investment in new coal-fired power stations and grid upgrades, she added.

Yesterday’s decision concludes a tender process originally with several companies that was terminated in April, with only Cogent believed to be still in the ring.

Ms Moore said the decision was part of a plan to take  “most, if not all city buildings” off the coal fired grid as part of the council’s  2030 goal to cut carbon emissions by 70 per cent and to lead the world’s cities in addressing climate change.

“Stand alone trigeneration plants are already being used by a number of companies in Sydney including GPT Group, Stockland, Investa and Westfield. However, the City’s plan goes much further, with trigeneration networks to supply precincts or clusters of buildings similar to Europe, the USA and Asia.”

Mr Healy said there were still many details to hammer out.

“The detail has not yet been decided, even though we provided a couple of models. There is still a lot to be negotiated with the council, but they like our model, the build own, operate, maintain model. ”

Mr Healy said this was also the standard model agreed with Investa for the 40 Mount Street (Coca-Cola Place), North Sydney/126 Philip Street, Sydney project.

See our coverage Investa flicks the on switch to trigen grid power _

“We said that was the first step in a precinct model.”

“Now there is a City of Sydney and Dandenong model.”

Central Dandenong

Mr Healy said the Dandenong project will be massive ­– a greenfield site producing six megawatts in a central energy centre.

It will also have a 1.5 kilometre hot water distribution network that will be delivered to buildings to be used for winter heating and cooling in the summer through a building provided absorption chiller.

“That network has just been commissioned now. The energy centre is being built and it will be commissioned to go into service about the middle of next year.

The overall project is huge: 29 hectares and up to five city blocks of greenfield development.

Work on the $5 million Cogeneration Precinct Energy Project in the heart of central Dandenong, started in late November with Places Victoria, formerly VicUrban, estimating that would save around 360,000 tonnes of carbon emissions over 20 years.

Chief development officer for Places Victoria Dominic Arcaro said that the PEP would benefit businesses in a 10 kilometre radius of the power centre, with access to lower carbon electricity, accessed through the existing power grid. They would also be able to access  thermal energy for heating and cooling by running hot water through a series of pipes to heat exchangers within individual buildings which then heat or cools (as required) the building.

“Cogeneration units, such as the one proposed, have been successfully installed in a number of single site commercial and retail buildings in Australia, including Crown Casino, the new Children’s Hospital and the EPA building in Carlton. However, this will be the first unit in Australia servicing multiple titles across an entire precinct,” Mr Arcaro said.

“The PEP building will be 16.5 metres high to the top of the acoustic wall and will occupy a 344 square metre site. It is approximately 4.5 m higher than the adjoining Mason Street Hall on the corner of City Street and Robinson Street.

“Places Victoria had worked collaboratively with architect Peter Hogg, of pH Architects, and Cogent to ensure the PEP building integrates with the adjacent Mason Street Hall, allowing the Mason Street Hall to be retained. The design has also been subject to a peer review by Grimshaw Architects and ARM Architects.

“While the building is predominantly constructed from structural steel and pre-cast concrete panels and insulated for acoustic attenuation, small viewing portals in the building design will allow the public to view the internal workings of the PEP. The building will also display data, including energy production and carbon savings on the façade.

The PEP would use natural gas and that waste ? heat captured from the gas-fired generator would be used to heat recirculating water before expelling any excess heat.

“It will meet all EPA emissions standards for commercial buildings and residential areas,.” he said.

Mr Arcaro said the building was expected to be completed in mid-2012 and will operate between 7 am and 11 pm, Monday to Friday. “EPA approval would need to be sought to operate outside the designated hours.”

Places Victoria has a 20 year development and operating agreement with Cogent for the PEP.

Places Victoria has delivered the PEP reticulation network for the thermal energy.

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