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Sydney's CBD heading off the grid

Recovered heat from buildings, small gas generators, will make city 70% self-sufficient

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The City of Sydney is going ahead with its long-planned “trigeneration” proposal, in which localized power plants on building roofs and basements will supplement – and eventually partly replace – the coal-fired electricity that currently powers the city.

The council has approved the first $100 million stage of a $AU440 million overall project, with Cogent Energy to start building the in-CBD network, something that will come as a relief to data centre operators who find it increasingly difficult to power new CBD facilities.

The Origin Energy-owned Cogent was nominated to lead the project by the council three months ago.

Sydney’s CBD remains a popular location for data centres, in spite of the difficulty operators face in securing power the multiple high-power feeds they need to multi-home their electricity input.

The long-term plan that Lord Mayor Clover Moore says was approved last night could eventually see the CBD 70 percent self-sufficient in electricity by 2030 – something she told ABC Radio’s AM this morning would also relieve cost pressures on network operators, who could save $AU1.5 billion in network upgrades that would otherwise be needed to support the city’s growth.

Trigeneration uses gas-powered generators, and recovers the heat that would otherwise be lost to the atmosphere for building heating, as well as using hot water to supply the energy for air-conditioning.

Allen Jones, who heads the project for the City of Sydney’s Sydney2030 masterplan, says that 30 percent of a coal-fired power station’s energy is lost as waste heat.

Last week, the city announced another Australian first, beginning a city-wide rollout of LED street lighting as a power-saving measure. ®

Update: This story originally put the value of the current contract at $AU400 million. Origin Energy advises that this stage of the project is worth $AU100 million.

The first two stages of the trigeneration project will cover areas in the north and south of the CBD, Pyrmont and Broadway, and the Green Square project. ®

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