Barwon Water taps battery storage, boosts solar farm capacity to 3MW

Victorian regional utility Barwon Water is adding energy storage to its plans to source 100 per cent renewable electricity by 2025, with the installation of a 180kW/200kWh battery system, alongside a 300kW solar array at its Wurdee Boluc Water Treatment Plant.
The addition of solar and battery storage at the Wurdee Boluc plant – which filters, cleans and fluoridates greater Geelong’s water supply – was announced alongside plans to triple the size of Barwon Water’s flagship solar farm, to a total of 3MW.
In a statement last week, Barwon Water said the boosted capacity at the Black Rock Water Reclamation Plant would generate enough energy to meet 35 per cent of the plant’s electricity needs.
“We’ve recently started constructing the second stage of our solar farm at our Black Rock Water Reclamation Plant, which will see an additional 5544 panels added to the farm,” a company statement said.
“This will boost the solar generation capacity at Black Rock from one megawatt to a massive three megawatts, making it the biggest solar array in the region to date.
“Separately, we embarked on our first battery storage project at our Wurdee Boluc Water Treatment Plant last month, which will capture energy generated from a new 300 kilowatt solar array being installed on the site.”
Barwon Water managing director Tracey Slatter said the addition of battery storage was “significant” for the utility, allowing it to store and use the solar energy when it was needed, instead of sending it to the grid.
As well getting the utility further along the road towards its goal of sourcing 100 per cent renewable electricity by 2025, it is also a key strategy in keeping customers’ bills low.
“Reducing our energy use drives down our operating costs, which helps us keep downward pressure on water bills,” Slatter said.
“Our Black Rock Water Reclamation Plant in Connewarre – which treats the majority of our region’s sewage – uses about 33,000 kilowatt hours a day, about seven times more energy than an average household uses in a whole year,” she said.
The new solar and battery storage additions follow Barwon Water’s December switching on of a 250kW PV array built next to a storage facility in the Surf Coast town of Torquay, at the site of a new sustainable housing development.
That ground-mounted solar system will produce 370,000kWh of energy a year, to help Barwon Water power its local Torquay operations, and send any excess energy to the grid.
It has also been designed as a potential micro-grid that could one day integrate solar resources from the neighbouring Salt Torquay housing development, built on a former Barwon Water basin site.
“As a significant greenhouse gas emitter, we’re committed to developing more sustainable practices, and we’re doing that by investing in renewable energy to become more self-sufficient, and limit our impact on the environment,” said Slatter.
“Developing renewable sources of energy to cut emissions is critical for a business like Barwon Water because our ability to deliver safe, reliable and affordable water depends on a stable climate.
Construction of the additional solar panels at the Black Rock Water Reclamation Plant started in late 2018.
Work to install solar panels and battery storage at the Wurdee Boluc Water Treatment Plant began in March 2019.
As we have reported on One Step, Barwon Water is one of many Australian water companies – public and private – to make the shift to solar and other renewable energy technologies, although arguably it is a pioneer – it still operates a wind turbine at Breamlea which was originally installed way back in 1987.
In Victoria alone, state government-owned Melbourne Water announced plans to build two major “behind the meter” solar arrays to power two water treatment plants, as part of its own plans to reach net zero emissions by 2030.
And in the south-west of the state, Wannon Water has been building its own 800kW wind turbine, that will power 100 per cent of its Portland water and sewage treatment facilities.
It also has a 100kW solar PV array on top of a tank at its water treatment plant at Hamilton, and another 100kW of PV installed at the company’s Warrnambool office. A 250kW solar array at the Warrnambool water treatment plant went live in December and has cut usage at the facility by 50 per cent.

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