Why be energy efficient?

Co-generation station

Co-generation station (iStock)

Waste heat minimisation and recovery are two of the most effective ways to reduce energy costs and greenhouse gas emissions. Reducing heat loss not only lowers energy and maintenance costs, but can also minimise emissions of air pollutants and improve the productivity of furnaces, ovens and boilers.

Investing in waste heat recovery can also provide alternative energy sources and yield significant energy savings in the industrial and commercial building sectors. Waste heat recovery technologies such as co-generation have the potential to produce electricity below the price charged by the local electricity provider. These technologies reduce dependency on the electrical grid.1

For information on types and components of waste heat systems, see Technology background – Waste heat minimisation and recovery.

Companies should also be aware of any forecasted increase in costs of fuels, such as natural gas, as this will affect the choice of fuel for new co-generation facilities.


There are many opportunities to reduce energy costs through waste heat reduction and recovery strategies, including the following:

See all opportunities in Waste heat minimisation and recovery

Case studies

  • Distributed Generation in Australia: A Status Review 2011
    • University of Technology, Sydney

    This report was undertaken for the Australian Alliance to Save Energy. It includes case studies on a cogeneration plant at the Crown Casino in Melbourne and a bio-energy plant. Electricity generation was a big advantage when planning the Casino, due to the high load of the complex. Cogeneration has proven a cost-effective way to provide energy for the site, including waste heat for hot water and steam. While a 3.9 MW cogeneration plant was installed at Earthpower’s food waste to energy facility in Sydney to produce biogas from municipal, commercial and industrial food waste. Electricity generated from these plants is considered renewable under the MRET scheme, and is sold as eligible renewable energy, and is also eligible for the NSW Greenhouse Gas reduction scheme.

  • Macquarie University saves with cogeneration (Opens in a new window)

    Macquarie University had to replace the 30-year-old chiller running their library’s air-conditioning system. The university seized the opportunity to examine the cost of cogeneration and discovered that they could shave $20 million off their energy bill over the next 23 years.

  • Innovative gas-fired cogeneration on display at Griffith Hospital 2003 (Opens in a new window)

    When Griffith Hospital closed down its laundry and catering services, the hospital was left with a central steam plant working under capacity. Griffith Hospital installed an innovative gas-fired cogeneration system which will reduce its energy bills by $140,000 each year and cut greenhouse gas emissions by over 1,000 tonnes per year, the equivalent of taking 240 cars off the road.

Key resources

  • Energy Saver Training: Cogeneration Feasibility 2014
    • NSW Office of Environment & Heritage
    • Website

    This training consists of an introduction course designed for decision-makers and a technical course for specialists – such as engineers – conducting cogeneration pre-feasibility assessments. The courses are designed to guide businesses towards determining whether a cogeneration system is the best technology for their organisation.

  • Energy Saver Cogeneration Feasibility Guide 2013 (Opens in a new window)

    This resource provides a guide and a tool to help companies decide if cogeneration is suitable for their site. The guide includes practical information about on-site cogeneration projects and a detailed step-by-step guide to assist companies to evaluate the financial viability of an on-site cogeneration system. The guide is aimed at asset/facility managers and is for sizing small to medium on-site cogeneration systems (up to 5 MW).

  • Energy Saver Co-generation Feasibility Tool 2013 (Opens in a new window)

    This tool gives users an understanding of their electrical and thermal loads and how much energy is consumed at a site level. The tool generates analysis to help users identify the most appropriate plant size for a site. It also provides financial information, including energy price scenarios and cash flow analysis, to help determine a business case.

  • Heat Recovery: A Guide to Key Systems and Applications 2011 (Opens in a new window)

    The application of heat recovery techniques can significantly reduce energy consumption, running costs and carbon emissions. This technology guide outlines the basic principles of heat recovery as well as some of the common terminology. It looks at applying heat recovery to various systems and processes within buildings. This guide is divided into six sections by heat recovery sector, namely the basics, boilers, refrigeration, ventilation, industrial processes and next steps.

  • Waste Heat Recovery: Technology and Opportunities in US Industry 2008 (Opens in a new window)
    • US Department of Energy and BCS, Incorporated
    • PDF 4.7 MB

    This report provides an extensive overview of conventional and developing heat recovery technologies in the United States and abroad. It evaluates key industrial waste heat sources, describes current practices and identifies barriers to waste heat recovery. It also suggests research, development and demonstration efforts that can further promote heat recovery practices.

  • Introducing Combined Heat and Power 2008 (Opens in a new window)

    This technology guide introduces the main energy saving opportunities for businesses with appropriate simultaneous heat and power demands. It demonstrates how taking action can save energy, cut costs and increase profit margins. It explains the different types of combined heat and power systems available, outlines the financing options and sets out the key steps to take to install CHP.

Footnotes ~ Show 1 footnote

  1. US Department of Energy (2000) Combined Heat and Power: A Federal Manager’s Resource Guide, prepared by Aspen Systems Corp. for the US Department of Energy, Washington, DC