South Australia’s government-owned water utility, SA Water, has added another ground-mounted solar system to its growing network of zero-carbon energy supply, in this case a 176kW PV array in Mt Gambier.
SA Water said on Friday that the new system meant that around 470 solar panels were now helping to power its sites in Mount Gambier as part of the utility’s renewables-based plan to slash operating costs and carbon emissions.
The new array, at the regional centre’s team depot and wastewater pump station is expected to generate a combined 216 megawatt hours (MWh) of energy a year and – across the entire utility – adds to 30-plus solar arrays at treatment plants, pump stations and depots across the state.
Ultimately, SA Water’s zero cost energy future initiative is expected to generate around 242 gigawatt-hours of solar energy, alongside 34 megawatt-hours of installed battery storage.
“As one of the state’s largest electricity consumers with a power bill reaching $86 million in 2019-20, it’s important we embrace new and exciting initiatives to help keep operating costs low and stable for our customers,” said SA Water’s senior manager of Zero Cost Energy Future, Nicola Murphy.
“We want to set an example of proactive environmental leadership, focused on sustainability and action on climate change, and these solar panels in the heart of Mount Gambier are terrific examples of how we can make a real difference in reducing carbon emissions to the tune of around 92 tonnes every year.
“Our team is busy getting our sites energised and connected to the national electricity grid ahead of the warmer, sunnier months, where the true benefits of this exciting project will come to the front,” Murphy said.
“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 across our existing plants, pump stations and other land holdings.”
SA Water has also laid claim to the installation of the “world’s largest” re-deployable solar array – a 12.8MW pre-fab PV system at the Happy Valley Reservoir on the outskirts of Adelaide that uses the Maverick solar block technology of Sydney-based success-story, 5B.
Whether or not this is true, at the time of its installation 5B co-founder and chief ecosystem officer Eden Tehan did confirm that the Happy Valley system was the largest Maverick array the company had deployed to date.