Powering Sydney towards a low carbon revolution

Powering Sydney towards a low carbon revolution
Ambitious goals

The goal, the plan, the mastermind

In 2008 the City of Sydney set itself some ambitious goals – to reduce carbon emissions by 70% from 2006 levels. To do this by 2030. And to do it for the City of Sydney Local Government Area as a whole. To achieve these goals, the city hired Allan Jones MBE, an engineer and expert in decentralised and renewable energy with a proven track record – and a title to prove it! Allan Jones, the mastermind behind the plan and Sydney’s Chief Development Officer for Energy & Climate Change, tells more.

PHOTO: Alan Jones, Chief Development Officier for Energy & Climate Change, Sydney.

Masterplans
With Allan Jones at the helm, the City of Sydney is implementing a Green Infrastructure Plan comprising five masterplans – trigeneration, renewable energy, alternative waste treatment, decentralised water and automated waste collection.

What is special about the City of Sydney’s green infrastructure plan?

AJ: “Although individual green infrastructure measures have been implemented elsewhere in the world, no other city has implemented all green infrastructure measures at the same time in a combined Green Infrastructure Plan. At the same time the City is implementing projects such as trigeneration, building energy and water efficiency retrofits, renewable energy and LED street lighting as ‘show by doing’ projects.”

Although individual green infrastructure measures have been implemented elsewhere in the world, no other city has implemented all green infrastructure measures at the same time in a combined Green Infrastructure Plan.

 

Allan Jones, Chief Development Officer for Energy & Climate Change, Sydney.

Energy in a different place
With his experience from Woking and London, Allan Jones knew that a conventional view of cities and city planning would not be able to deliver 70% carbon reductions. What was needed was “energy in a different place”. Why? Because the only way to meet the target of 70% reduction was, according to Allan Jones, to implement a decentralised energy network, which would be up to three times more efficient than power stations. As Allan Jones says: “The biggest impact on reducing emissions will be in decarbonising electricity generation and moving from centralised energy to decentralised energy.”

CHP and trigeneration in a hurry
Centralised power stations generate two units of heat for every unit of electricity produced – and they then reject that waste heat into the atmosphere using water from their cooling towers. Utilising the waste heat from local or decentralised electricity generation can deliver energy efficiency of around 85%. This is where the really big savings are, according to Allan Jones.

Sydney’s masterplan is predicated on decentralised combined heat and power (CHP), also called cogeneration, and trigeneration (which is combined heat, power and cooling) systems in designated precincts or low carbon zones. These plants recover the waste heat generated from the production of local electricity and use it to heat and cool buildings.

Trigeneration plants pass the heat generated through an absorption chiller to convert hot water into chilled water for air-conditioning, also saving emissions from powering electrically driven air conditioning units.

The renewable energy masterplan – an overview
Some of the most important elements in the renewable energy masterplan include:
• Renewable gases and fuels (from municipal, commercial, industrial, sewage and agriculture waste)
• Photovoltaics
• Marine renewables
• Wind – on and offshore
• Hydro
• Geothermal
• Solar

Other masterplans – an overview
In addition to trigeneration and renewable energy other masterplans comprise:
• A city-wide non-potable recycled water network
• Advanced waste gasification and rubbish recycling to avoid waste going to landfill by up to 90%
• Automated waste collection system collecting separated waste and recycling via underground pipes rather than by garbage trucks.

You have worked with decentralised energy before. What is special about Sydney?

AJ: “What makes Sydney unique is the rapid introduction of city-wide trigeneration with a thermal energy network from a standing start in a country (and a continent) that has never done anything like this before”.

Sydney’s masterplan is predicated on decentralised combined heat and power (CHP), also called cogeneration, and trigeneration (which is combined heat, power and cooling) systems in designated precincts or low carbon zones. These plants recover the waste heat generated from the production of local electricity and use it to heat and cool buildings.

Trigeneration plants pass the heat generated through an absorption chiller to convert hot water into chilled water for air-conditioning, also saving emissions from powering electrically driven air conditioning units.

The renewable energy masterplan – an overview
Some of the most important elements in the renewable energy masterplan include:
• Renewable gases and fuels (from municipal, commercial, industrial, sewage and agriculture waste)
• Photovoltaics
• Marine renewables
• Wind – on and offshore
• Hydro
• Geothermal
• Solar

Other masterplans – an overview
In addition to trigeneration and renewable energy other masterplans comprise:
• A city-wide non-potable recycled water network
• Advanced waste gasification and rubbish recycling to avoid waste going to landfill by up to 90%
• Automated waste collection system collecting separated waste and recycling via underground pipes rather than by garbage trucks.

The right man for the job

Having a goal is one thing, getting it done another. So in 2009 the City of Sydney hired a man with a wealth of experience to drive the 2030 process towards its ultimate goal.

Success in Woking
The borough of Woking has a population of around 100,000 and lies around 40 km from central London in the county of Surrey. Allan Jones joined Woking Borough Council in 1989 and became its Director of Thameswey Ltd, the Council’s energy and environmental services company, a few years later. Even before sustainable thinking and global warming were on the political agenda, Allan Jones and Woking from 1990 to 2004 succeeded in:
• Reducing overall energy consumption by 48.6%
• Reducing carbon dioxide emissions by 77.4%
• Reducing nitrogen oxide emissions by 76.6%
• Cutting water consumption by 43.8%.

Honoured
In 1999 Allan Jones was honoured for his pioneering work when he received an MBE (Member of the Order of the British Empire) for his services to energy and water efficiency. The work of Woking Council was also recognised by a Queens Award for Enterprise in 2001 for the development of sustainable community energy systems, the only local authority to receive such an award.

London Climate Change Agency
In 2004 Allan Jones was recruited to establish and lead the newly formed London Climate Change Agency as Chief Executive Officer. His mandate was to make the city the green capital of Europe; considering its reputation as one of the most smog filled cities in Europe, this was certainly a challenge.

Nonetheless, the first targets for the agency was a 60% reduction in emissions by 2025 and to take 25% of London’s electricity supply off the grid and on to local decentralised energy systems by 2025 and 53% by 2050. The main instruments to deliver this was the London Plan, the Mayor’s Climate Change Action Plan, establishing an energy services market for decentralised energy in London and the Mayor’s new statutory duty to contribute towards the mitigation of and adaptation to climate change.

Doing a Woking in London
Allan Jones was hired to do a Woking in London by taking the blueprint that had worked so well in Woking and expanding it in a city that was 75 times larger. Similar to Woking, the Agency established a public/private joint venture energy services company called London ESCO to design, finance, build and operate low- and zero-carbon projects. This catalysed the energy services market for decentralised energy in London such as the London 2012 Olympics/Stratford City, Kings Cross, Greenwich Peninsular and Elephant & Castle decentralised energy systems.

Sydney
After a period as the director of the Sustainable Environment Foundation and as an energy and climate change consultant, working for Sydney amongst others, Allan Jones was appointed to provide fulltime leadership and strategic direction.

Australia
Australia is a unique continent. According to Allan Jones: “Australia has a carbon intense grid and significant vested interests to keep it that way. However, it can be done. When I started in Woking UK power generation was 80% coal and 20% nuclear. Coal is now down to 28% and coal fired power stations continue to be phased out.”

Decentralisation

The Sydney masterplan invests heavily in decentralised energy generation, particularly in the form of decentralised trigeneration. Come 2030, the city will replace coal-fired electricity completely, with energy needs instead being met by a combination of 70% trigeneration and 30% renewable energy. That makes decentralised energy the key to realising the 70% target.

When implemented, the elements of the masterplan will displace carbon offsets with actual reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. This will mean the City of Sydney Local Government Area will be carbon neutral from 100% renewable energy by 2030.

Allan Jones, Chief Development Officer for Energy & Climate Change, Sydney

Advantages
The advantages of moving to decentralised energy generation:
• Energy efficiency: Cogeneration (CHP) and trigeneration are nearly 3 times more energy efficient.
• Reduced emissions: Up to 60% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions with natural gas and waste heat supplying heating and cooling (via thermal chillers) to buildings in a precinct based/city-wide trigeneration scheme.
• Reduction in electricity charges: Replacement of electric chillers by thermal chillers supplied by trigeneration will reduce network charges, currently 50% of electricity bills and due to rise to 60% by 2014. In Sydney and New South Wales, electric air conditioning and associated peak power is the primary driver for the expenditure in network augmentation leading to the very high electricity transmission and distribution network charges in electricity bills.
• Carbon tax: Reduced exposure to Australia’s carbon tax.

Renewable energy
According to the City of Sydney masterplan, renewable energy will supply 30% of the city’s electricity needs in 2030. This will be combined with decentralised trigeneration using natural gas as a transitional fuel to operate precinct based plants. However, according to the masterplan, natural gas will be phased out and replaced by renewable gases and fuels recovered from renewable feedstocks.

100% carbon neutral
Could Sydney become 100% carbon neutral. Not just in terms of combining actual reductions in emissions with carbon offsets, but alone in terms of 100% decarbonised energy. According to Allan Jones, the answer is a definite yes:





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