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Castlemaine shows businesses how to cut emissions

27 July, 2009

A pioneering business community initiative – the Maine’s Power project in Castlemaine, Victoria – is on-track to achieve major reductions in greenhouse gas emissions from four of the town’s largest businesses by 2010.

CSIRO’s finding that small goods manufacturer, Don KRC, could reduce its greenhouse gas emissions while doubling production capacity, is a key finding that was detailed at a public event held recently at the Mount Alexander Hospital, Castlemaine, to mark the project’s conclusion.

Cited as a case study in the Garnaut Climate Change Review, the Maine’s Power project partnered CSIRO, local community and government with the four businesses to collectively achieve a 30 per cent reduction in 2007 levels of greenhouse gas emissions by 2010.

“Following an initial evaluation of the energy use in the region and for the individual businesses, we were able to indentify a series of alternative energy supply options, including energy efficiency measures and suggestions on low-emission energy technologies, which were specific to each site,” Dr Lilley said.

The project set out to explore ways Continental Smallgoods manufacturer Don KRC, Flowserve, Victoria Carpets, and the Mount Alexander Hospital, could reduce the energy they consume, implement alternate small-scale energy technologies and maintain reliable low-emission energy supply.

Project leader from CSIRO Energy Transformed Flagship, Dr Bill Lilley, said each business had specific energy needs and so the options available to achieve emissions savings had to be tailored to their individual operations.

“Following an initial evaluation of the energy use in the region and for the individual businesses, we were able to indentify a series of alternative energy supply options, including energy efficiency measures and suggestions on low-emission energy technologies, which were specific to each site,” Dr Lilley said.

“These recommendations have included ways to improve energy efficiency, technology upgrades to manage the way electricity is used, investment in new power generation technologies – like gas-fired cogeneration units or solar panels – and the purchase of ‘green power’.”

All the businesses in the Maine’s Power project are considering their preferred options for reducing greenhouse gases and are on-track to achieve the emissions target.
Don KRC accounts for two-thirds of the project group’s collective energy use. It is undergoing expansion and, following the recommendations of the report, is investigating the potential to install a four-megawatt cogeneration plant to provide power and hot water for its new facilities.

“A new cogeneration plant for Don KRC would not only secure a reliable low-emission power supply for it’s expanded operation but would also exceed the 30 per cent emissions objectives set out in the project,” Dr Lilley said.

“Based on Don KRC’s projected energy use for their new facilities, the business could reduce their emissions by around 60 per cent for each unit of product they produce.

“Employing strategies to improve energy efficiency and generating power close to where it is needed can result in a significant reduction in greenhouse gas emissions and also provide financial benefits to businesses. Furthermore, this approach has the potential alleviate local constraints in power supply and could avoid the need for costly upgrades to the network infrastructure.

“The Maine’s Power project provides an example to all Australia of how an enterprising business community can tackle the global issue of climate change by working together to address local sustainability challenges and opportunities,” Dr Lilley said.

The project, undertaken as part of CSIRO’s Sustainable Communities Initiative and the CSIRO Energy Transformed Flagship, was supported by funding from Regional Development Victoria, Sustainability Victoria - Smart Zones, the Mount Alexander Shire Council, as well as contributions from the local partners.

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