Co-generation refers to the use of a natural-gas-fired engine to simultaneously generate both electricity and useful heat.
All engines emit a certain amount of heat during electricity generation, which in the case of a typical coal-fired power station is considered waste heat and is released into the environment.
By contrast, co-generation systems capture and use some of the heat. In buildings, this heat can be used for space heating, domestic hot water and in absorption chillers for cooling.
Security of electricity supply
As well as reducing energy waste and lower carbon emissions, co-generation systems also provide security of electricity supply, which is important for high-acuity hospitals.
Co-generation in the Victorian public health system
The Victorian public healthcare system has 36 megawatts of co-generation capacity and provides energy and steam to the following hospitals:
- Dandenong Hospital
- Geelong Hospital
- St Vincent’s Hospital
- The Alfred
- The Royal Melbourne Hospital (which supplies the Royal Women’s Hospital).
The management of these co-generation systems is contracted to a third party until 30 June 2020.
In addition, locally run co-generation systems have been installed at the Northern Hospital, the Royal Children’s Hospital and Box Hill Hospital.