A proposal to install a series of floating solar PV arrays on the network of wastewater ponds throughout the City of Gold Coast, in Queensland, is being weighed up by local government.
According to a report from the Gold Coast Sun, a senior council source said the idea was to use floating solar both to help power the city’s wastewater treatment plants – cutting council operating costs – while also cutting evaporation from the ponds.
The proposal, while potentially ambitious in scale, would not be charting new territory. In New South Wales, the city of Lismore last year called for tenders for a community funded 100kW “floating solar plant” to be installed on top of one of the settling ponds in its sewage treatment plant.
And another project – Australia’s first floating solar plant – was developed in Jamestown, South Australia, in 2015; a 4MW project that supplies power to a waste water facility owned by Northern Areas Council.
Elsewhere, Victorian utility North East Water has announced plans to install 43kW solar and battery storage (40kW) at its water treatment plant in the regional town of Yackandandah, with a tender for the job launched last month.
And in the NSW Riverina Shire of Corowa, the council has installed 100kW ground-mounted systems at both the Corowa and Mulwala Water Filtration Plants, and a 50kW ground-mounted system at the Mulwala Sewerage Treatment Plant.
On the Gold Coast, council has already installed solar panels at a number of its buildings and depots and is in the process of rolling out solar across the city’s waste and recycling centres.
“Biogas is currently used for electricity generation at one of our sewage treatment plants and Gold Coast Water and Waste is actively considering further energy efficiency and generation initiatives,” a council source was quoted as saying.