Cogeneration: what it means for you

Consumers and manufacturers alike are likely to benefit from a new facility in Melbourne, which is demonstrating the exciting and promising possibilities of the energy industry's future with a cogeneration plant.

A plastics manufacturing company, Qenos, has commissioned a cogeneration facility to improve its eco friendly credentials and to make savings on Australia's high electricity prices through increased energy efficiency. 

Cogeneration is when both electricity and heat or cooling is produced from the same source, and is a far more efficient, as well as environmentally friendly, process than conventional power generation methods.

Qenos' cogeneration plant, which opened on May 24, will help the company to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions by 100,000 tonnes a year, which is the equivalent of removing 25,000 cars from Australia's roads. That will translate to huge energy savings for the company, and will take some immense pressures off of the surrounding environment.

But what does this cogeneration technology mean for everyday Australians?

The Clean Energy Council has said that it's encouraging that companies are embracing such technology, as not only do they themselves benefit from energy savings, but so do every day consumers.

This is because cleaner energy sources help to take pressure off the conventional electricity network, which is currently facing the need for $100 billion's worth of infrastructural upgrades in the next ten years if usage remains as it is or higher.

Qenos has replaced its steam boiler with the cogeneration plant, which will provide all of its electricity needs and will generate a third of its steam requirements.

Various institutions have been increasingly turning to cogeneration in Australia. Macquarie University in Sydney, for example, has installed two 760 KW cogeneration generators which provide chilling for air conditioning, as well as heat. It combines power, heat and cooling with chilled water storage - the first system of its type in Australia.

Macquarie University's project saves 5,400 tonnes of carbon dioxide a year and is expected to save the university $20 million in energy costs over 23 years.

Broadwater and Condong Sugar Mill also have two 30 MW cogeneration facilities to power operations.

Anything that can help increase energy efficiency, reduce costs for the consumer and improve environmental outcomes is a winning combination, and cogeneration is looking like a technology that can do just that.

Posted by Charlie Moore