W.A. Water Corp taps solar to cut grid power consumption in half


Western Australia’s government owned water utility has become the latest in Australia to embrace renewables, with plans to install solar across nine sites including offices, pump stations, treatment plants and borefields.
W.A. Water Corporation – which pumps water and wastewater across 2.6 million square kilometres – said on Friday that the major solar rollout had kicked off last week, with the installation of 350 panels at its call centre in the Perth suburb of Balcatta.
The state government said in a statement that the solar installs were expected to supply around half of the electricity demand of the each site, and reduce the utility’s annual emissions by 450 tonnes.
Construction of a renewable biogas energy generator at the Beenyup Wastewater Treatment Plant in Craigie was also underway, the statement said, to help meet the energy needs of the Advanced Water Treatment Plant there.
The biogas plant is scheduled to be completed later this year, and joins a co-generation plant already in operation at the Woodman Point Wastewater Treatment Plant.
“WA’s water supplies are being adversely affected by climate change, primarily due to reduced rainfall in the south-west,” said state water minister Dave Kelly in comments on Friday.
“That is why it is so important for water utilities to lead by example and do what they can to reduce greenhouse gases that accelerate climate change.
“Water Corporation’s adoption of solar and other green technologies will accelerate in the years ahead, particularly as technology improves and costs come down.
“What’s important is that we don’t wait, but take every opportunity now to reduce energy use and greenhouse gases, in the context of rapid climate change.
Adopting new technology and applying it in the field allows us to learn what works best and make critical efficiency improvements,” Kelly said.
W.A. Water Corp joins numerous other water utilities around Australia in the shift to renewable energy, in what is a notoriously energy hungry sector.
Leading the way has been South Australia Water,  which last month announced that local outfit Enerven had been chosen to roll-out a planned 154MW of solar PV and 34MWh of energy storage across more than 70 of the utility’s sites.
The $300 million plan to invest in more than 500,000 solar panels, as well as battery storage, will take the utility’s total solar generation capacity to around 160MW, adding to the 6MW of solar currently being installed across SA Water’s Glenelg, Hope Valley and Christies Beach facilities, which are due to connect to the NEM in coming months.

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