Friday, 22 April 2011

Please Steal This Idea

Here’s an opportunity to (almost) disconnect part of the City from the power grid, burn less coal and save money! Opportunities like this are not common and this one is fairly easy to imagine.

We are proposing to rezone a mixed- use area of 1950s single-story houses, currently used for consulting rooms of various sorts, and some small blocks of flats. The patch is opposite the Perth Zoo, between Richardson Park cricket ground and the Mill Point freeway off- ramp. Proposed new zoning is to allow taller buildings with the first three storeys extending out to the boundaries of blocks over 1000 square metres and to then extend upward to 25 or 41 metres with thinner set-back spires. This will allow air and light between buildings without an imposing visual effect.

Now for the action! We could use an energy configuration known as “Tri-Generation”. This would involve a gas-fired local generator, supplying electricity to all properties within the precinct. Such local generation would avoid the very significant financial and environmental costs of burning inefficient coal at Collie. We’d also avoid transmission losses, estimated at about 6% of total cost. The generator would operate from a building the size of a small house. That’s the first big win.

Now, the waste heat from this generator could heat water, to be piped around the precinct, warming offices in winter and powering air- conditioners in summer. I have seen and read of this operating in many places already, such as Woking, UK and Tromso, Sweden. Sydney is rethinking its CBD energy system this way, with inspiration from Alan Jones. There’s another big win here- no heating and cooling costs, a big number.

Part 3 would be to require all new developments to install rooftop solar PhotoVoltaic panels and wind micro- turbines, but not to install inverters (a major part of the costs for standard PV systems.) These panels would be required to connect directly to a neighbourhood Direct Current network, connected to a control system and inverter at the power building. There the DC current would be switched to AC and supplied to the same local grid as used by the gas generator. The area is swept daily by winds across Melville Water. Protection will be needed for migratory birds.

For security of supply the precinct would maintain connection to the Synergy grid, and contracted with the best bid from a commercial supplier, of which there are several. As the generator would work at optimum revolutions, excess power could be routed to the grid at an agreed feed-in tariff rate.

Binding this technical system together would be a financial structure based on a public-private partnership and energy supply contracts similar to strata title. Projected cost savings are expected to be above twenty per cent. Environmental benefits are significant.

This is going to take a bit of new thinking, something that we are good at in WA. Please let’s read your comments. Click below and log in as Name or Anonymous or send me an email and I’ll publish for you.


Christine Boult said...

Loved this idea, hope you get it approved.

Glen Ryan said...

Great visioning for the urban environment!! High tech and green precinct

Your approach to applying to the conditions of rezoning and the type of development allowed in the Zoo area is a great start. The scale is of a size that I would consider viable for this type of application.

I would support further work by the council to undertake further studies/research into the technical and economic viability to supporting this vision. including;
- district heating and cooling
- Local tri-generation applications and options including central generation plant fuelling options (gas, biofuels, Manure from the Zoo?)
- DC networks – (Variable speed generation, renewable energy integration, DC Air conditioning loads, cooking elements)
- energy storage (electrical and thermal)
- Built environment – Double glazing & Building insulation improvements
- Smart metering and integrated Building/Home management systems.
- Electric Cars (charging stations)

Glen Ryan

Australian Sustainable Energy DevelopmentsPty Ltd
Rytech Australia Pty Ltd

11 Arlington Ave
South Perth, WA 6151

Telephone: (+61 8) 9368 0635
Mobile: 0400 012 620

Graham said...

Very good idea - and you can specify all hot water systems be solar, together with solar hot water heating floors. If all buildings had major window glass as solar collectors instead of regular glass only, the collection would be greatly improved. I believe you can get glass to do that with now.

Regards, Graham (property owner in Bowman Street)