Energy Manager of the University of Adelaide (UoA), Vikram Kenjle, delivered an informative presentation at the Energy Expo and Seminar Master Class in August this year. The University have delivered some innovative solutions to reduce their energy consumption, including Co-generation or Combined Heat & Power (CHP).

CHP is the simultaneous production and use of electricity and heat energy, resulting in high energy efficiencies. Further efficiencies can be made by adding an absorption chiller to form a Tri-generation unit or Combined Cooling, Heat & Power (CCHP).

Some of the results from the project have been reduced energy and network costs, improved energy security, and a semi-dispatchable power plant which is user controlled and not dependent on intermittent sources.

As part of the UoA Trigen system, 3 x 65kWe micro-turbines were installed along with high efficiency chillers condensing boilers, which operate 24/7, servicing the plant growth rooms. A 337kWe reciprocating gas engine coupled with an absorption chiller is used as primary unit, high efficiency electric chiller as secondary (or backup), and further enhancement is made by geothermal cooling and cooling tower heat recovery.

Potential pitfalls were noted of the system such as under-utilisation, grid connection complexity and cost, and variation to supply and price of input fuel.

Heat has been able to be recovered in a number of areas such as in cooling towers, air compressors, ventilation systems, and heat emitted by data centres and communication rooms.

Vikram pointed out that before embarking on such a project it is important to understand the quantity and quality of waste heat, identify heat demands in the facility, and identify if supply & demand are well-matched, as adding storage can prove costly.

The potentials of these technologies are enormous; however, they require a big budget, accurate data, meticulous planning, long implementation time, and specialised technical resources.

The UoA has also commenced their Roseworthy Micro-Grid Project, a 1.2MW Solar PV farm with a 500kW/2000kWh vanadium flow battery. We look forward to seeing future development from the university.