The City of Sydney has called on state and federal governments to remove “crippling regulations” preventing city-wide installation of low-carbon distributed energy capacity, after its council endorsed plans to install a rooftop trigen plant to power Sydney Town Hall, its offices, electric vehicle fleet and indoor pools.
The model trigen plant would be located on top of Town Hall House, where over 1,500 City of Sydney employees work, and would produce electricity, heating and cooling for that building and the neighbourning Sydney Town Hall.
Using renewable gas made from excess waste as its fuel – as well as its own heat by-product for air conditioning, heating and hot water services – trigeneration can be more than twice as efficient as coal-fired power plants.
According to City of Sydney estimates, a plant on Town Hall House would help achieve a 5 per cent reduction in the City’s carbon pollution, and avoid about 74,000 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions over its lifetime.
In a statement following last night’s vote, Sydney Lord Mayor Clover Moore said the plan to use locally-produced clean energy fit well with City’s long-term commitment to reduce carbon pollution, and would make a big contribution to the City’s emissions reduction target of 70 per cent by 2030. But to meet this target, she added, “we need to change the way we power our city.”
To achieve that, says the City of Sydney, would require the NSW and federal governments to remove barriers and costly electricity network charges “that do not reflect the benefits local generation offer the network,” and make it difficult to install bigger, more efficient plants and deliver even bigger savings.
“The business case for Council, community and business to deliver local energy projects generating local jobs is there,” Moore wrote in an opinion piece published in The Guardian today. “Unfortunately, the rules governing how we can do this are strangled in ‘green tape’.
“To share energy we need to export it across the electricity grid, but the rules were drawn up years ago for big power stations. They are anti-competitive, increasing our emissions and power bills,” she wrote. “We need the help of our state and federal governments to get rid of this crippling regulation.”
The City’s Chief Development Officer, Energy and Climate Change, Allan Jones MBE, said city-wide trigeneration networks have proven to be safe, reliable and cost-effective in various cities around the world, like New York, Seoul and Berlin.
“These networks help provide security of supply during extreme weather or climate events,” Jones said. “The precinct trigeneration network supplying Co-op City in the Bronx in New York continued to supply energy to 60,000 residents, six schools, three shopping centres and the police precinct when the electricity grid’s poles and wires were knocked out for several weeks by Hurricane Sandy in 2012.”
“The City would like to see precinct trigeneration in Sydney and we will continue to push for regulatory barriers to be removed,” Jones said, adding that the installation of trigen at Town Hall House would provide a model for this and allow for future expansion to the neighbouring Queen Victoria Building, and other buildings in the area.