A huge $2 billion mixed-use urban development project in the heart of Sydney is set to be powered by low-carbon trigeneration technology, following the signing of an historic green funding agreement.
The $26.5 million Environmental Upgrade Agreement (EUA) – signed this week by the City of Sydney, developers Frasers Property and Sekisui House, and a fund established specifically for this EUA – will go towards the installation of a highly-efficient, gas-powered trigeneration plant that aims to cut carbon emissions at the Central Park development on Sydney’s former Carlton & United Breweries site.
The 2MW plant –which is already under construction, and is due to be competed and commissioned by December – will use natural gas engines to provide power, hot water, space heating and air conditioning for the development’s 3,000 residences and 65,000sqm of retail and commercial space in 14 buildings at Central Park. The stage one trigen energy centre will also supply low-carbon electricity to the multi-storey Clare Hotel and the mixed-use Brewery Yard building.
Trigeneration facilities are around twice as efficient as a coal-fired power plants, and are able to achieve overall energy efficiencies of 80-90 per cent, compared to only 35% on average for conventional supply of electricity from the grid.
They do this by avoiding the losses associated with the transport of electricity, and by capturing waste heat that would otherwise be lost, and using it to generate both hot and cold water. The chilled water is created by an absorption chiller, which is generated by the excess heat and which operates like a refrigerator. It creates water at sufficiently low temperatures to be used for air conditioning.
The City of Sydney is no stranger to the technology, which is a key part of its ambitious plan to reduce carbon emissions from 2006 levels by 70 per cent by 2030 – one of the most ambitious targets of any Australian government.
The City plans to replace the its centralised and largely coal-fired electricity generation with 70 per cent from trigen and 30 per cent from renewable energy sources like solar and wind by 2030. Its final Trigeneration Master Plan was released in June last year.
As for the EUA – a first for the City of Sydney since the voluntary agreements were made possible by changes to the Local Government Act in 2011 – the finance behind it will be provided through the Australian Environmental Upgrade Fund (TAEUF 2) – a purpose built fund established by Eureka Funds Management Limited to finance energy efficiency projects – the ANZ Bank, and the Australian government-backed Low Carbon Australia.
“This unique funding mechanism is a first for funding precinct trigeneration projects, and Eureka has sufficient capital to finance similar opportunities in the future,” said Niall McCarthy, director of Eureka.
Frasers Property and Sekisui House are now seeking Expressions of Interest for an owner/operator of the trigen plant, to put in place before it is commissioned in late 2013.