The City of Sydney will further investigate the use of trigeneration, after council called on expressions of interest for sites at Town Hall House and the immediate surrounds.
Trigeneration is a method of producing energy that uses a natural gas-fired engine to create both heat and electricity. It also uses an absorbtion chiller to produce cooling energy using the waste heat.
In June, the City backed away from a large trigeneration project at Green Square because of financial uncertainty around gas prices and the regulatory environment. The council determined that the economics did not stack up but said it would pursue trigeneration opportunities at its key CBD buildings as part of the Trigeneration Master Plan.
The plan approved this week emphasises that this is a call for expressions of interest only, and that any tender would be required to pass through council at a later date.
Liberal councillor Christine Forster, long a trigen opponent, said the scheme was high-risk, high-cost and not core business for the City of Sydney.
Some environmentalists also question the need for trigeneration because of their opposition to coal seam gas. If successful, the City’s engines will be powered by gas from the Eastern Gas Network, a small portion of which originates as CSG.
But it is cleaner than the coal-fired power stations which currently account for 80 per cent of the city’s electricity generation. The City hopes to use trigeneration to supply 70 per cent of electricity by 2030, with the other 30 per cent coming from renewables.