350,000+ solar panels installed by state water utility, marking completion of mammoth project – pv magazine Australia

State water utility SA Water has completed its major solar installation project that installed more than 350,000 PV modules in 33 water treatment plants and pumping stations in major cities and regions of South Australia.

May 11, 2021

SA Water, which serves millions of South Australians and is one of the largest consumers of electricity in the state, has completed the commissioning of no fewer than 367,769 solar panels its network of locations as part of its $ 300 million project, the Zero Cost Energy Future Initiative.

In 2017, SA Water announced its vision of getting down to $0 net electricity costs. Given the water company spent around $ 86 million on electricity last year, the ambition was immense. With more than 350 kilometers of pipeline, Drinking water in South Australia (SA) has to travel a long way from the source via water treatment to the tap. This journey is now powered by the sun, saving both money and emissions.

After completion of the construction work at all 33 locations and completion of the connection at 24 of these locations SA Water and its partners are now completing the connections at the remaining nine locations and integrating the giant arrays into Australia’s National Electricity Market.

The Zero Cost Energy Future project also includes 34 MWh of energy storage. “If battery storage is used, it will be powered when the site is commissioned. Some storage is now online, while others will continue to be online,” said a spokesman for SA Water pv magazine Australiaregarding the storage rollout. Such additions will continue until SA Water reaches its target generation of 242 GWh of energy per year, they added.

In January, however, pv magazine reported that half a million solar panels would be needed to achieve this goal SA Water said today that through efficiency in design it has been able to achieve its goal with fewer solar panels in a smaller physical footprint (just 367,769 modules, more precisely).

Solar panels will be installed in the Happy Valley Reservoir in South Australia.

Image: SA water

As part of its project, SA Water created the World’s largest fully movable solar system at Happy Valley Reservoir, which supplies the drinking water for more than 40% of SA Water’s customers in metropolitan Adelaide. The portable array, which supplies the Happy Valley water treatment plant with electricity, comprises 30,000 modules, which are installed on a 12 hectare site next to the reservoir and generate around 17 GWh of solar energy annually.

“With the ability to generate almost twice the energy requirements of the nearby Happy Valley water treatment plant, the on-site battery storage system will complement the solar modules so that energy can be stored and also brought back onto the market,” said the South Australian Minister for Environment and Environment Water said David Speirs. He congratulated the project and said that it demonstrated the leadership of the state in renewable energies (an indisputable fact).

“In Happy Valley, the local community was heavily involved in the planning of this site so that the solar panel project looks like the natural environment,” added Speirs.

Nicola Murphy, SA Water Senior Manager for the Zero Cost Energy Future InitiativeThe project, including the energy storage aspect, will reduce the utility’s dependence on a “volatile grid” and ensure the performance of its assets.

See more pictures and hear what Nicola Murphy had to say about installing solar panels to power water through the Morgan Whyalla Pipeline.

“Just like thousands of South Australians use solar panels at home, we use some of our physical assets to work harder for us while performing their vital roles in providing trusted water and sanitation services,” said Murphy.

“We can also create additional revenue streams by returning excess solar energy to the national grid, where it can be used across Australia.”

The project created 250 jobs during construction and will generate enough renewable electricity for 50,000 households. Of course, the planned renewable water system also flows into the general intention of South Australia, declared in 2015, to achieve this Net zero emissions by 2050.

“This solar initiative was started by our own people and it clearly shows that South Australians are leading the way in integrating renewable energies and proactively reducing the effects of climate change,” added Murphy.

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