We are turning Sydney into a low carbon city which doesn’t need coal-fired electricity at all. The solution lies with decentralised energy (trigeneration) and renewable energy, which we’ve proved can 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 while we are installing it we can add a decentralised water system, an alternative waste treatment system, and an automated waste collection process into the mix while we’re there.
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.
The City plans to build trigeneration systems all over town. The first ones will be on Council’s own sites, including five aquatic centres, the Town Hall precinct, Customs House and potentially another 94 places in our property portfolio.
Renewable energy – which we don’t need to explain – will be used in addition to 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 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 protecting 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).
Automated waste collection in the City would see an underground vacuum pipe network used to remove waste from buildings. It would be uber-efficient and high-tech. Also, because it will reduce the number of garbage trucks on the road, there’ll be even less greenhouse emissions in the city.
As mentioned, all of these systems can work together and be installed at the same time. It is a huge investment, so we’ve put together an independent panel of experts to help us implement our Green Infrastructure Plan.