As one of the state’s largest electricity users, SA Water is seeking to effectively neutralize its electricity bills through solar, and some of its largest PV projects to date are nearing the end of their public notification period.
The pipeline currently under review includes three solar farms, which could add around 30 MW of new solar PV capacity to the utility’s portfolio – depending on the efficiency of the modules used, which has not yet been specified.
Assuming it gets the green light, SA Water will install almost 34,680 panels on a 24-hectare property south of its existing pumping station and waste water treatment plant on Randell Road at Palmer, 70 km east-north from Adelaide. The site, which is presently used for agriculture, will also feature seven inverter stations and an energy storage system. Construction is expected to start in May and operations to commence in October, while the battery would be installed and commissioned in December. The development cost is put at $10.8 million.
Two other solar farms are planned for the Robertstown region. The region stole the limelight earlier this year with the advancement of two massive renewable energy projects – a proposed 500 MW solar farm colocated with 250 MW/1000 MWh of battery storage, and a construction-ready 200 MW solar PV farm and 120 MWh energy storage component that form part of the Solar River Project, the size of which could double at a later stage. Robertstown would also host one end of the proposed interconnector between South Australia and New South Wales, which holds the promise of reducing power bills in both states, while improving network and energy security.
Only 14 kilometers away from Robertstown, SA Water is looking to add a solar + energy storage facility near Kading Road, Geranium Plains at the site of its Morgan to Whyalla pumping station. The array is set to feature 28,620 solar panels, mounted on single-axis trackers, three power conversion stations and a battery system, the capacity of which has not been specified. The project comes with a price tag of $8.9 million.
The utility’s second project in this region is located at the pumping station on Black Springs Road is much larger. It features 81,240 panels, mounted on single-axis trackers, 13 inverters and a battery, which will be delivered simultaneously with the Kading Road project. The project costs are estimated at $8.6 million, making it cheaper than the utility’s two other proposed projects.
SA Water’s solar portfolio began taking shape with the installation of a pilot 100 kW solar PV and 50 kWh battery storage system at its Crystal Brook Depot, which was part of the company’s initial $10 million investment in PV systems.
Last year, SA Water announced plans to install 154 MW of solar PV and 34 MWh of energy storage over the next two years. The utility plans to deploy the systems at approximately 70 of its sites around the state with an eye on its ambitious goal of achieving zero net electricity costs by 2020.
SA Water is seeking to neutralize its huge electricity bills, which reached $55 million for 220 GWh in 2016-17, making it one of the state’s largest electricity users.
“The maturity of solar technology has allowed us to confidently determine how and where it can assume supply for our energy-intensive water treatment and pumping operations, and export to the market to return revenue,” SA Water Chief Executive Roch Cherouxsaid in April, commenting on the zero net electricity cost plans.