Page 3182 - Week 09 - Tuesday, 18 August 2009

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The Standing Committee on Climate Change, Environment and Water enjoyed a visit to the Canberra airport on 29 July 2009 to view the trigeneration facility and blackwater treatment plant. Canberra airport’s project manager, Ms Karen Emms, and the director of planning and environment, Mr Noel McCann, provided the committee with an explanatory tour, for which we were very grateful. Our aim for the visit was to learn more about the application of energy reduction technologies in industry so as to inform the committee’s inquiry into greenhouse gas reduction targets.

The Majura Park trigeneration plant that the committee visited is one of two located at the Canberra airport complex. The other is situated at Brindabella business park. The trigeneration facility, located in the central services building at the Majura office precinct, has the capacity to service the heating and cooling needs of its 40,000 square metre buildings.

The process of trigeneration involves using natural gas to produce electricity, while capturing and reusing the engine’s excess heat to generate further electricity and to heat and cool water. That water can then be used to heat buildings in winter and to cool them in summer. The Majura Park trigeneration plant is an energy creation and recycling facility that can potentially reduce Majura Park’s greenhouse emissions by up to 70 per cent. The Canberra airport estimates that its annual reduction in CO2 emissions is equivalent to taking 1,700 cars permanently off the road.

Any surplus electricity created by the plant can be used to provide power to the Majura office precinct, and excess can also be sold back into the national electricity grid. According to the Canberra airport, the plant’s output capacity of 1,200 kilowatts of electricity is equivalent to the total average annual consumption of electricity of 250 homes. This efficiency dividend is integral to the success of this technology. In the committee’s view, this facility marks the way for innovation in greenhouse gas reduction in business and, potentially, housing throughout Canberra.

The Majura office precinct facility took three years to complete, from design to completion. The cost recovery period for the trigeneration plant is estimated to be between eight and 12 years. This presents to industry an economically viable energy option that also reduces greenhouse gases.

As part of the tour, the committee also inspected the Majura Park blackwater treatment plant, one of two located at the Canberra airport, the other being at Brindabella business park. The plant recycles water waste from the Brindabella business park and Majura office park and has the capacity to recycle around 50,000 litres per day at each plant. This water can then be used for irrigation, toilet facilities and, in the future, cooling. The Majura park blackwater plant is not yet operational, as it needs to accumulate a base amount of waste fluids for the essential bacteria to work.

The committee commends the Canberra airport for their efforts and innovation in leading the way and reducing greenhouse gas emissions in the ACT. On behalf of the committee, I would like to thank the staff of the Canberra airport who participated in the visit, particularly Ms Michelle Knighton, Ms Karen Emms and Mr Noel McCann.

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