Cogeneration & Trigeneration
Cogeneration and trigeneration are proven technologies that are building market momentum and, with the right thermal demand and economic and regulatory environment, can be expected to provide sizeable demand management opportunities.
What is cogeneration?
Cogeneration is the simultaneous production of electrical energy and thermal energy, also referred to as combined heat and power (CHP).
What is trigeneration?
Trigeneration is the simultaneous production of electrical energy, thermal energy and cooling.
Cogeneration and trigeneration can use various fuels, including coal, petroleum products, natural gas, biomass and biogas. The majority of cogeneration and trigeneration facilities installed in Australia use natural gas due to its availability, cost and greenhouse intensity. Biomass is expensive to transport and not economically viable unless the source is nearby.
Cogeneration and trigeneration users
Cogeneration and trigeneration is most attractive at sites with a large heating and/or cooling load.
Potential users of cogeneration and trigeneration include:
- hospitals and health facilities
- hotels, cinemas and hospitality venues
- industrial / manufacturing facilities
- government offices of local, state and federal agencies
- multi-dwelling residential
- educational facilities, universities and TAFE
- commercial, multi retail and missed use commercial
- public utilities such as RailCorp and Sydney Water
Benefits of cogeneration and trigeneration
1. Multiple benefits
In addition to electricity, co- and tri-generation plants can also deliver:
- hot water production
- space heating
- hot air/steam for industrial heat processes
- space cooling (using an absorption chiller)
- dry air generation (with the use of a desiccant)
2. Distributed generation
Demand for electricity in Australia is projected to grow by nearly 50 per cent between now and 2030. As a result, Australia needs to spend at least $100 billion during the next decade to expand its power infrastructure. To meet these costs, network charges for consumers in NSW and QLD are predicted to increase by up to 66% by 2015, with similar increases likely in other states and territories.
Cogeneration and trigeneration provides distributed power generation at or near the point of consumption which lessens the need for costly expansion of the grid. This reduces transmission losses, stabilises the electricity grid and lessens the impact of rising electricity prices.
3. Energy efficiency
Cogeneration and trigeneration's simultaneous generation of electrical power and thermal energy achieves greater energy efficiency (70-90%) than conventional systems producing power and heat separately (35%). Less fuel is required to produce a given amount of energy because the conversion and transmission losses associated with the separate production of power and heat are avoided. This reduces the demand and costs associated with providing power and heat to a facility.
4. Greenhouse gas savings
Cogeneration and trigeneration power plants have a third of the emissions associated with producing electricity from coal power plants and the increased efficiency resulting from cogeneration means less greenhouse emissions.
Potential for cogeneration and trigeneration in Australia
There is potential for significantly more cogeneration and trigeneration in Australia. There are a number of industrial plants, as well as commercial and residential facilities and buildings, which, for example consume gas and electricity to produce heat and steam for general heating, water heating, and run production processes.