Combined heat and power

Sydney's energy backdown: first step to zero gas future

Trigeneration gas power stations not the way to green energy

Beyond Zero Emissions, 11 June 2013

Climate solutions think-tank Beyond Zero Emissions has welcomed yesterday's announcement that the City of Sydney is abandoning plans for its fossil-gas powered trigeneration precinct.

“We opposed this ill-informed scheme from the outset,”said BZE buildings researcher Trent Hawkins.

"At a time when fossil gas reserves are running down in Eastern Australia, and prices rising in line with the export market, increasing reliance on gas was always a mistake. It could only be supplied by increasing the production of coal-seam gas.”

Doug McClenahan, Project Leader of the Drake Landing Solar Community

Doug McClenahan is Project Leader of the Drake Landing Solar Community (DLSC) and Natural Resources Canada’s Manager of Active Solar Research and Development. District heating at the DLSC is provided by seasonal solar thermal energy storage. Solar thermal energy is collected in the summer, stored underground, and then returned to the homes as heat during the winter.

Doug says 97 percent of space heating needs for the community’s 52 single-detached homes were met by solar thermal energy last year, a feat unprecedented anywhere else in the world. He is planning for 100% solar this year, which is its sixth year of operation. The energy efficient homes are very well insulated and air tight. 

An array of 800 solar panels located on garage roofs throughout the community generate 1.5MW of thermal power during a typical summer day and supply heat to the district heating system. During the warmer months, the heated water is distributed from the short-term storage tank to the borehole thermal energy storage (BTES) system via a series of pipes. As the heated water travels through the pipe-work, heat is transferred to the surrounding earth. The temperature of the earth will reach 80 degrees Celsius by the end of each summer. In winter, the heated water in the bore hole field passes to the short-term storage tank and is then circulated to the homes through the district heating loop to provide space heating to the homes. 

Natural Resources Canada won the 2011 Golden Energy Globe World Award for the DLSC project, the first time a Canadian project has achieved such a distinction.

Check out the live performance of the DLSC site here (updated every 10 mins):

Jesse Yu, Director International Business Development at Cogenra Solar


Jesse Yu is Director International Business Development at Cogenra Solar, a Californian start-up supported by Vinod Khosla (, commercialising solar congeneration technology. These are combined solar photovoltaic (PV) and thermal modules which optimise the power of the sun by creating both electricity and hot water.

Cogenra Solar’s renewable energy solution delivers the highest internal rate of return (for system purchases) and delivers 5 times the energy and 2 times the economic value of photovoltaic (PV) systems of the same electrical output by producing 4 units of additional heat energy for every single unit of electricity.

Jesse has spent a lot of time in Australia talking with potential commercial clients, where the conditions are favourable for Cogenra's technology - sunny weather, high electricity prices and the soon to implemented national carbon tax.

Cogenra have also recently completed their first solar cooling installation at a site in California.

Jason Perkins, CEO of Tractile Solar, Australian innovator of BIPV-T roof tiles

Beyond Zero's Matthew Wright and Anthony Daniele speak to Jason Perkins, CEO of Tractile Solar, an innovative Australian company, based on the Gold Coast in Queensland. Tractile Solar is the world’s first Building Integrated Photovoltaic Thermal (BIPV-T) roof tile. It creates both electricity and hot water from a single unit.

Tractile Solar BIPV-T technology fits their Tractile Interlocking Roof System, as well as allowing retrofitting by applying to existing concrete roofs.

The company secured a highly competitive $236,000 Proof Of Concept (POC) grant from Commercialisation Australia in 2011. The funds are being used to prove the concept that the Tractile products can be manufactured to meet Australian Standards for roofing and within a marketable price band.

Ergon Energy has funded the manufacturing and installation of two 1.5KW systems and the evaluation project has run for a period of 12 months. One installation site is at the Bond University campus, a 6-Star Green Star Education PILOT Certified Rating for design, installed in 2011. The other Tractile Solar test site has been installed as part of the Townsville City Council Rowes Bay depot.

The product will be launched internationally at Intersolar, Munich, in June 2012.

Stefan Larsson, Vice-President of Engineering of Solarus, solar PV + thermal hybrid technology

Stefan Larsson is CTO and Vice President of Engineering of Solarus, an inventor and manufacturer of solar PV + thermal hybrid technology. The Swedish designed hybrid system is a combination of the two systems - PV modules and thermal collectors. The heat output from the hybrid panel is transferred through solar pipes to the heat storage boiler while the electricity is transferred to the inverter and then to the grid.

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