Manufacturing News

Alternative energy generates cost savings

IN A joint project with AGL, and with support from the Victorian Government’s Business Energy Innovation Initiative, a major on-site green energy generation facility has been commissioned at the Symex Holdings soap manufacturing plant in Port Melbourne.

At a capital cost of around $4.2M, the 4.4 MW cogeneration unit is operating under a 15 year build-own-operate arrangement whereby AGL supplies electricity from the gas-fired generator to Symex, and excess power is exported to the grid for on-selling to Symex subsidiary Pental Soap Products in Shepparton.

Symex production manager, Peter Costello, says heat from the turbine is recovered and converted into low pressure steam in the existing heat recovery steam generator.

“The cogeneration plant replaces most of the natural gas, formerly used for low pressure steam generation, with exhaust heat from the gas turbine.

“All the existing infrastructure is reused in the project including the high and low voltage electrical system, gas reticulation, steam, and feed water reticulation,” Costello explained.

“Our Port Melbourne site is now capable of operating independently from the grid. Some 13,500 MWh is being used by the total site, and the excess 15,100 MWh is provided to the grid.

In relation to steam production, the cogeneration project is generating around 11 tonnes per hour of low pressure steam, or 36,600 MWh per annum. Peak steam demands and any increased future requirements can be provided by supplementary firing,” he said.

“It is estimated that this advanced turbine combustion system will result in reduced nitrogen oxide pollution of over 50% compared to a conventional system, and a reduction of 22,000 tonnes per annum of greenhouse pollution, or the equivalent of removing 5,000 cars off the road each year.”

Manager project implementation at AGL, Cyril Arambage, says increasing regulations aimed at countering the greenhouse effect are resulting in a greater focus on ways to increase the efficiency of energy generation.

“Also, the price of electricity is escalating, which in turn means that alternative technology is becoming more feasible and viable. The economics have improved, so we can expect cogeneration projects to become more prevalent in future,” he said.

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