Sydney to build Australia’s first low-carbon energy network

from City of Sydney Press Release, dated 3 April 2012

An historic agreement to be signed today between the City of Sydney and Cogent, wholly owned by

Origin, will link central Sydney in the nation’s first citywide low-carbon energy network. Lord Mayor Clover Moore said the groundbreaking new energy system has the potential to make Sydney one of the world’s leading green cities.

“Our trigeneration network will give consumers a cleaner and cost-competitive alternative to the rising price of electricity,” the Lord Mayor said.

“This network could save NSW electricity consumers as much as $1.5 billion by 2030 in avoided or delayed spending on grid upgrades and new power stations.

“It will help us deliver on our target to cut carbon emissions across the City of Sydney by 70 per cent by 2030 (on 2006 levels) – one of the most ambitious of any Australian government.”

Under the agreement, Cogent, which is a fully owned subsidiary of Origin, will install a trigeneration network to supply low-carbon electricity, heating and air-conditioning to council and privately owned buildings in four low-carbon-zones across central Sydney:

  • CBD North (Martin Place/George Street)
  • CBD South (Town Hall Precinct)
  • Pyrmont/Broadway
  • Green Square

The City’s interim trigeneration master plan included a total of 360 MW by 2030 at a cost of $440 million (2010 dollars), to provide 70 per cent of the Local Government Area’s electricity requirements. Today’s agreement with Origin covers the initial stages of this plan and involves a portion of the total 360 MW as projected in the City of Sydney’s Interim Trigeneration Master Plan which extends to 2030.

Trigeneration energy systems can be located in basements or rooftops, run on natural gas or renewable energy, and supply electricity, heating and cooling to clusters of surrounding buildings. These systems are more than twice as energy efficient as coal-fired power stations and reduce carbon emissions by up to 60 per cent for city buildings. 

Trigeneration plants are already being used in individual buildings by companies in Sydney, including GPT Group, Stockland, Investa, Westfield and the Rooty Hill RSL.

The City’s plan to connect multiple buildings to a trigeneration network significantly improves the energy efficiency of the system – such networks are already operating in Europe, the USA and Asia.

Councillors last night approved the heads of agreement with Cogent for the installation and operation of a network of super-efficient trigeneration energy systems across central Sydney.

As the City of Sydney and further customers come on board, Cogent will begin installing the low-carbon energy network next year, after a final contract is signed in June 2012.

Origin General Manager Retail Markets Jim Galvin said :”Origin is committed to meeting customers’ energy needs today, and investing in the energy solutions for tomorrow. This means finding and developing new energy solutions which can provide Australians with a cleaner, reliable and affordable supply of energy.

“Working in partnership with large organisations like the City of Sydney, Origin is actively installing smarter technology including trigeneration systems, which use energy more efficiently, reduce carbon emissions and also deliver economic benefits to customers.

“As a leader in the installation of trigeneration in Australia, Origin is already demonstrating these savings with customers. In 2011, Origin worked with Investa Property Group to develop Australia’s first open commercial trigeneration precinct in Sydney. Origin is also building a groundbreaking trigeneration precinct in Melbourne,” Mr Galvin said.

Almost 90 per cent of electricity used in the city comes from remotely located coal fired power stations, which are responsible for 80 per cent of its carbon emissions.

A University of Technology study found that network charges – the cost of transporting electricity – are set to rise from 40 to 60 per cent of the average electricity bill over the five years to 2013-14.

Two new power stations are planned for NSW with a capacity of 4,000 MW, costing from $4.6 billion to $7 billion. If these proposed power stations were to use coal they would emit 23 million tonnes of carbon dioxide per year or 15 per cent of NSW’s total greenhouse gas emissions and four per cent of Australia’s emissions.

The study showed that a Sydney trigeneration network could save NSW electricity consumers up to $1.5 billion in avoided or delayed spending on grid upgrades and new power stations by 2030.

Electricity prices increased by 43 per cent in NSW over the three years to 2010 and are expected to by about this much again over the next 3 years, according to the NSW government’s Electricity Network and Prices inquiry. Last year average NSW electricity prices rose by an average of 17.1 per cent.

For more information about trigeneration in the City of Sydney please go to: http://www.cityofsydney.nsw.gov.au/Environment/Trigeneration.asp