Natural gas powers urban district energy project in Melbourne

Natural gas-fired engines will be powering a cogeneration plant that will provide reliable electricity and thermal energy for a major urban revitalisation initiative in Dandenong, Victoria.

Built by Cogent Energy, the plant will play a pivotal role in the VicUrban-led Revitalising Central Dandenong (RCD) initiative that is rejuvenating the south-east region of Melbourne.

The project uses one of GE’s Jenbacher gas engines.

The collaboration marks GE’s first urban district energy project in Australia. Clarke Energy Australia, GE’s authorised distributor for Jenbacher gas engines in Australia, will supply project owner Cogent Energy with a two megawatt, J612 Jenbacher cogeneration unit for phase one of the new power facility, which could be expanded to six megawatts.

GE’s ecomagination-qualified Jenbacher system was shipped to the Dandenong site in January, with commercial operation set to begin this year. The gas engine is expected to save the equivalent of about 9.9 tonnes of carbon emissions a year, which is equivalent to removing more than 5500 cars from the road.

The cogeneration plant is set to dramatically reduce the emissions and energy use of the Dandedong commercial district by reducing its reliance on energy from the grid. The plant also will have the capacity to produce surplus hot water, which Cogent Energy will then sell back to local commercial buildings to provide cooling via building owner-supplied absorption chillers.

“Helping central Dandenong transform itself into a vibrant, 21st century retail and services district will require a reliable, cleaner, cost-effective supply of energy to meet the growing needs of the area’s business and residential communities,” Cogent Energy manager Blair Healy said. “GE’s Jenbacher technology offers the optimal energy efficiency we required to make this project successful,” he said.

“Australia represents an important growth region for GE as more customers embrace various distributed power applications – including industrial cogeneration – to bring the sources of energy production closer to end-users,” GE CEO and Energy president – gas engines Rafael Santana said.