A South Australian reservoir that supplies the drinking water for nearly half of metropolitan Adelaide is set to go solar, with the installation of a 12MW ground-mounted solar kicking off this week.
The 30,000-panel installation at the Happy Valley Reservoir is one of 33 PV arrays being installed across SA Water sites, as the state government-owned utility rolls out a total of 154MW of solar as part of its Zero Cost Energy Future project.
In a statement on Monday, South Australia’s minister for environment and water, David Speirs, said early site preparation, including the planting of native vegetation, had been completed and works to install the solar panels were now underway, with project partner Enerven and using the pre-fab solar tech of Clean Energy Council award nominee 5B.
“The Zero Cost Energy Future project is an ambitious project for SA Water to use renewable energy to reduce its largest operational expense – electricity,” said Speirs.
“The solar array was reconfigured to fit in a smaller area and a 40-metre buffer of pine trees was retained between the panels and nearby Black Road.
“This is a fantastic result which still enables SA Water to achieve its energy management target as well as preserve and enhance the surrounding natural environment.”
According to the SA Water website, the solar panels for the project will be assembled off-site, using 5B’s rapid deployment solar-in-a-box Maverick technology. The folded and packed panels are then transported to the Reservoir Reserve, rolled out and placed into position.
“Together with South Australian contractor Enerven, SA Water will minimise potential construction impacts,” said Speirs.
The treatment and distribution of water is an energy-intensive business and plenty of water companies around Australia – both private and public – have been turning to renewables to cut their costs.
In April of 2019, 13 Victorian water utilities banded together to forge a major renewable energy off-take deal to supply between 20 and 50 per cent of each of their total electricity needs, and lower water bills for consumers.
The utilities, under an umbrella organisation called Zero Emissions Water Ltd (ZEW), signed a deal with the 200MW Kiamal Solar Farm – Victoria’s largest such project at that time, developed in the state’s north-west by Total Eren.