Our vision for Sydney is a low carbon city which doesn’t rely on coal-fired electricity. The solution lies with decentralised energy (trigeneration) and renewable energy, which have the potential to provide 100% of our energy needs.
The beauty of the decentralised and renewable energy plan – in addition to the fact that it won’t contribute to climate change, of course – is that during installation we could add a decentralised water system and an alternative waste treatment system into the mix.
These things combined are what we call green infrastructure. It is all pretty complicated but also hugely exciting and ground-breaking, so we’d like to try and explain it, bit by bit.
Decentralised energy (trigeneration) generates power using low or zero-carbon fuels. While providing electricity, they can also heat buildings and cool them too. Trigeneration can be used to run a single building or a precinct.
Renewable energy will be used in addition to our planned trigeneration systems. We’ve got the ball rolling by installing solar power and hot water systems in several places. We’re also investigating all the other options for potential use, including wind energy, hydro, solar-thermal concentration, geothermal energy and marine renewables.
Decentralised water is an alternative to the water we all get from the tap and use for everything. Tap water is highly treated so it is safe to drink. The problem is, the bulk of water we use doesn’t need to be of such high quality.
By building a recycled water network that could be used for toilet flushing, watering gardens and the like, (in commercial and residential properties), we’re preserving Sydney’s precious supply of drinking water.
Advanced waste treatment (AWT) is the term used to describe technologies that recycle rubbish and keep it out of landfill and also those which recover energy from waste. We’re already sending the 40,000 tonnes of household waste a year to AWT facilities (see the waste and recycling section).