Brisbane City Skyline Australia

The recent signing of an agreement between the city council and two leading infrastructure partners is an exciting first step towards Brisbane having the first CBD district cooling system in Australia.

The innovative scheme, which aims to replace existing individual chillers and cooling towers in CBD buildings with a centralised plant supplying chilled water via a network of underground pipes, is tipped to deliver a range of energy savings and environmental benefits.

Brisbane City Council Acting Lord Mayor, Cr Adrian Schrinner, said that while the technology was already in use in many projects around the world, Brisbane would be the first Australian city to implement it on such a large scale in a CBD.

“Council is pleased to partner with Cofely Australia and Thiess Services in the development of this flagship energy efficiency infrastructure project,” Cr Schrinner said.

“When combined with Thermal Energy Storage, the district cooling system will chill water during off-peak periods and then supply it to CBD buildings during the day, resulting in significant energy savings and helping to deliver on Council’s vision for a clean, green city.”

“We recognise the importance of smart energy solutions in the long-term development of the CBD and have been working towards this goal with CitySmart – our sustainability agency – and industry partners including Energex, who have provided significant financial and resource support for this project.”

The project is expected to deliver significant cost savings for businesses by providing greater system efficiency, eliminating capital expenditure on replacing old chilling machines and facilitating a shift to off-peak energy consumption, with peak energy demands expected to drop by up to 20 megawatts per annum.

Energex Chief Executive Officer Terry Effeney welcomed the announcement, which he said would reinforce Brisbane’s credentials as an innovation leader.

“Energex has been a leading partner and contributor to the research and development of the proposed district energy system,” he said. “We believe this project has the potential to materially reduce peak demand in the CBD and thereby create additional network capacity for future growth. Energex looks forward to assisting the consortium during the next phase.”

Cofely Australia and Thiess Services will now begin the process of lobbying CBD building owners to sign up to the scheme.

Cofely Australia chief executive, Vaughan Furniss, said that while the project was revolutionary in Australia, centralised energy systems have been widely used for both heating and cooling in a host of European and Asian cities, including Paris, London, and Singapore.

The consortium has identified around 200 CBD buildings suitable for the district cooling system, with around 25 per cent of them potentially able to connect within the next five years.

New buildings slated for construction in the CBD will also be targeted, as the centralised system could potentially save capital and maintenance costs of an air conditioning plant, while also freeing up lettable space.

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