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South Australia’s Water Utility Greening the Future

  • South Australia’s Water Utility Greening the Future

About the blog

Robert Brears
Robert is the author of Urban Water Security (Wiley), The Green Economy and the Water-Energy-Food Nexus (Palgrave Macmillan), Blue and Green Cities: The Role of Blue-Green Infrastructure in Managing Urban Water Resources (Palgrave Macmillan)
Schneider Electric
Idrica

Renewable energy will play a significant role in building a green future, generating economic growth while reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Read how SA Water is leading the way in greening the future.

The International Energy Agency’s Sustainable Recovery Plan (2021–2023), in response to the global pandemic, shows that a variety of cost-effective measures, including low-carbon technologies, can add 1.1 percentage points to global economic growth, and 1.3 percentage points to developing countries, each year. The result is global GDP is projected to be 3.5% higher in 2023 than it would have been otherwise. At the same time, the measures will result in annual energy-related greenhouse gas emissions being 4.5 billion tons lower in 2023 than they would be otherwise.

SA Water Greening the Future

SA Water has agreed to purchase 14 hectares of land at the former ExxonMobil Port Stanvac oil refinery to construct a solar farm with more than 35,000 solar photovoltaic panels. The panels will provide renewable energy for the neighbouring Adelaide Desalination Plant and contribute to the utility’s overall goal of a zero-cost energy future.

Following remediation of the site, the installation of the solar panels will result in SA Water reducing its carbon emissions by 10,710 tons per annum. The panels will be two meters long and one meter wide, generating an average of 21-gigawatt hours (GWh) of electricity per year. The solar panels are in addition to the existing solar panels at the desalination plant.

During high production mode at the desalination plant, the combined solar generation and battery storage will offset around 50% of the plant’s energy costs, with its existing hydro turbines making additional contributions. During times of high rainfall when the plant operates in a lower production mode, the combined solar generation and battery storage will provide more energy than the facility requires, returning the excess to the National Electricity Market.

The solar power initiative is part of SA Water’s broader renewable energy management initiative that will see over 500,000 solar panels installed across 37 of its sites across the state to produce 242 GWh of electricity, along with 34-megawatt hours of battery storage. Generating renewable energy will significantly reduce the utility’s electricity costs across its drinking water and wastewater pumping and treatment operations, which in 2018/2019 — a dry year — amounted to $83 million.

Conclusion

Water utilities can play a significant role in greening our world.

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