Panels power drinking water network

Thursday, 09 July, 2020


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SA Water is implementing an ambitious renewable energy initiative that will see around 500,000 solar panels installed at 35 of its sites to produce a total of 242 GWh of electricity, along with 34 MWh of battery storage.

SA Water’s intensive drinking water and wastewater pumping and treatment operations throughout a dry 2018–19 cost $83 million, with the utility being one of the state’s greatest electricity consumers.

In pursuit of a zero cost energy future, SA Water has installed more than 100 solar photovoltaic panels at its Mount Pleasant Water Treatment Plant to power the drinking water network.

The roof-mounted panels will help reduce SA Water’s operating costs and carbon emissions by generating 58 MWh of green energy each year.

SA Water’s Senior Manager Zero Cost Energy Future, Nicola Murphy, said the solar array is one of four being installed by the water utility across the Adelaide Hills area.

“Now in the ground and capturing the winter sun, electricity generated by our panels at Mount Pleasant will help reduce the plant’s operating costs while reducing our carbon emissions by around 26 tonnes annually,” Murphy said.

“A combined 3500 panels are also currently being installed at our Hahndorf Wastewater Treatment Plant, Summit reservoir and water treatment plant and water pump station at Lobethal, which will power our operations delivering clean, safe drinking water and sewage services to Adelaide Hills customers.”

SA Water’s initiative has already seen around 147,000 solar panels installed at sites like the Bolivar Wastewater Treatment Plant and major pump stations along the Morgan to Whyalla Pipeline, with the remaining panels due to be installed before the end of the year.

“Despite the current COVID-19 conditions, we’ve been able to continue making significant progress on our Adelaide Hills sites due to the advanced procurement of the required solar panels and plant while implementing hygiene and social distancing practices wherever possible,” Murphy said.

“Not only does this keep our project on schedule, it also keeps our contracting partners and suppliers working on large-scale projects that have flow-on benefits to the South Australian economy.

“This initiative was designed by our people, and shows South Australians leading the way with the smarts and skills to integrate renewable energy and storage within the longest water network in the country.”

Image caption: SA Water’s Nicola Murphy said the Mt Pleasant site will reduce carbon emissions by 26 tonnes annually.

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