Victorian utility North East Water has announced plans to install solar and battery storage at its water treatment plant in the regional town of Yackandandah, with a tender for the job launched on Friday.
In a statement, the company said it hoped to install 43kW of solar panels and 40kW of battery storage at the facility as part of its own commitment to carbon neutrality, and as a broader water sector trial it was conducting with industry think-tank Intelligent Water Works.
The use of renewables by energy hungry water plant operators is not entirely new in Australia. For a couple of years now, Sydney Water’s Bondi Treatment Plant has been powered by a cogeneration system that supplies around 13 per cent more energy than plant uses.
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.
In Victoria, Wannon Water should soon be powering the water and sewerage treatment plant that services the regional city of Portland entirely by wind energy, with the construction of an 800kW wind turbine set for completion mid-2017.
And in Queensland, the Mount Isa Water Board is examining the use of cost-effective solar pumping to bring water from Lake Julius to the town’s water treatment plant, as a way to circumvent the impact of drought.
Floating solar is also being embraced for powering water treatment plants, with a $12 million, 4MW PV system in Jamestown South Australia (pictured above), supplying power to a waste water facility owned by Northern Areas Council. NSW’s Lismore council is also working to install what could be Australia’s largest floating solar PV plant at the East Lismore Sewerage Treatment Plant.
The North East Water project in Yackandandah, however, will be the first to trial the use of battery storage as well as renewable energy generation for running water supply and treatment facilities.
“North East Water has pledged to be carbon neutral by 2050 and has started the journey to eliminate consumption of fossil fuels by generating and storing electricity from renewable sources while also ensuring energy reliability during extreme weather events,” said the company’s head of operations, John Day.
“Depending on the success of the research and delivery trial, we could expand the renewables project to other areas across the North East.
Ultimately, he said, “The project will test the viability of energy storage at water treatment plants for all of Australia’s water corporations.”
The location for the trial is also key, with Yackandandah on its own journey to reach 100 per cent renewable energy by 2022 – an effort that kicked off last February with the launch of a 90kW solar array on the rooftop of the town’s heath centre.
“We’re really pleased that Yackandandah has embraced the idea and we can play a small part in the town’s push to be off-grid within five years,” Day said.
“The entire water industry will also be taking a close look at project, which may lead to a widespread change to power consumption within the sector.”
Tenders are now out for the project until April 13. For details on tendering for the project go to www.newater.com.au/current-projects/tenders-contracts/