Cogeneration both generates power and makes use of the heat that is produced during the process. Trigeneration takes this a step further by also producing cooling as part of the process.
Cogeneration at Castle Hill RSL Club's C2K Fitness and Aquatic Centre (Simons Green Energy)
Cogeneration and trigeneration can use a variety of fuels, including biogas, biomass, natural gas, coal and petroleum products. Most facilities in Australia use either natural gas or biomass such as sugar cane waste.
They are extremely efficient technologies. Cogeneration can be up to 80 per cent more efficient than conventional energy sources and produce around 60 per cent less carbon emissions.
There are many examples of cogeneration and trigeneration plants placed on properties such as:
- hospital and health facilities
- hotels, cinemas and hospitality venues
- industrial, manufacturing, commercial and retail facilities
- schools, universities and TAFEs
- public utilities such as RailCorp and Sydney Water
Australia has approximately 3305 megawatts (MW) of cogeneration installed, with another 18 MW of trigeneration.
The future of cogeneration and trigeneration
While cogeneration and trigeneration are proven technologies, their broader use is being held back by overly complex grid connection processes and (sometimes) heavy regulatory burdens, as well as the ongoing increase in natural gas prices.
However, with enough demand for the heat and electricity generated by these technologies, as well as a supportive economic and regulatory environment, cogeneration and trigeneration can be expected to help reduce pressure on the national electricity grid.
- Clean Energy Australia Report 2013
- Clean Energy Council Renewable Energy Database