Victorian utility Wannon Water will soon power 100 per cent of its Portland water and sewage treatment facilities from wind energy, with construction of an 800kW wind turbine set to get underway.
The company said on Thursday that it was pushing ahead with the $4.2 million project, with work at the site expected to begin “soon,” and commissioning of the turbine completed by mid-2019.
The wind project – first proposed in May 2016 – is one in a series of renewable energy developments by Wannon Water, which has pledged to cut its carbon emissions by 40 per cent by 2025.
In a statement, Wannon Water managing director Andrew Jeffers said the Portland project’s capital cost was expected to be paid back within 10 years through reduced energy bills.
“Over the life of the asset, the payback is forecast to be substantial,” he said, “resulting in future savings for our customers.”
The utility is Victoria’s second largest regional urban water corporation, whose territory extends from the Otway Ranges to the South Australian border – including the major centres of Warrnambool, Portland and Hamilton – and covers a total population of 100,400.
Late last year it installed a 100kW solar PV array on top of a tank at its water treatment plant at Hamilton, to reduce that plant’s demand on the electricity grid by 25 per cent.
Another 100kW of PV has been installed at the company’s Warrnambool office, with a 250kW solar array also planned for that city’s water treatment plant, to cut its grid demand by 40 per cent.
And in Port Fairy, Wannon Water is part of a group of local businesses, organisations and community outfits laying the groundwork to develop a multi-million dollar smart energy precinct, to slash community energy costs, cut its carbon footprint, and boost security of supply.
That project – launched in July – is in its first phase of development, looking into potential sites and technology options, as well as sources of funding.
Energy generation technology options being considered include wind, solar, biogas, geothermal and wave energy generation. The team is also weighing up smart energy contracts, microgrids and energy storage options.
Ultimately, the hope is that they can reduce energy costs by up to 50 per cent for local businesses and industries, ensuring that they remain competitive, and support jobs in the region.
“We … recognise the importance of supporting regional economic growth and prosperity,” Jeffers said, in his comments about the wind project this week, which he said includes input from at least one local supplier.
In this case, that would be Portland company Keppel Prince, which has been sub-contracted to manufacture the turbine tower using local steel.
German company, Enercon, will supply the “gearbox-less” E48 generator that will be located at the sewage treatment plant site in Olearia Road.