SA Water picks Enerven for solar+storage rollout

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SA Water has awarded a $304 million framework agreement contract to local contractor Enerven to deliver the utility’s landmark solar+storage program and help it achieve zero net electricity costs from 2020.

The investment in more than 500,000 solar panels is expected to deliver ROI in six years and support around 250 jobs during construction.

Since it provides around 1.7 million people across South Australia with drinking water and sewerage services every day, the water and wastewater treatment and pumping operations behind this are very energy intensive. Given this, SA Water is seeking to reduce its huge electricity bills, which reached $55 million for 220 GWh in 2016-17 and $62 million in 2017-18, making it one of the state’s largest electricity users. 

“Our bigger picture is a zero cost energy future, where we regain control over one of our single largest operational expenses. There’s no doubt our ambitious goal will be a stretch, but we won’t lose sight of it,” said SA Water Chief Executive Roch Cheroux.

Some of the companies major solar+storage project under the scheme are nearing the end of their public notification period, and are scheduled to commence construction in the first half of the year, provided they get the green light.    

Construction of all projects under the SA Water program will be carried out by Enerven Energy, an Adelaide-headquartered wholly-owned subsidiary of SA Power Networks, after winning a public tender.

The local outfit previously placed the winning bid in a tender held last year for Stage 1 ground-mounted solar installations across three sites as part of a 6 MW SA Water’s project, which includes coastal and floating solar PV plants.

Enerven is expected to mobilise to the first group of sites – including large facilities like the Bolivar Wastewater Treatment Plant and Morgan Water Treatment Plant – in the first half of this year.

To deliver this complex and innovative solution for SA Water, Enerven plans to draw on its experience with large projects, such as the nbn rollout, the Lincoln Gap Wind Farm and the Bungala Solar Farm.

A local sub-contractor set to play a major role in the delivery of SA Water’s new energy infrastructure is Tonsleybased SAGE Automation, which will deliver control and monitoring systems.

Installation of the new solar arrays will take priority, with energy storage devices to follow after the results of trials with traditional and thermal devices have determined the most suitable technology combinations.

This investment will increase the total of SA Water’s solar generation capacity to approximately 160 MW and will complement a range of other existing energy initiatives like biogas and hydroelectric generation, and trading as a market participant, the company said.

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 in December 2017, which was part of the company’s initial $10 million investment in PV systems.

According to SA Water, the construction of 6 MW of solar at its Glenelg, Hope Valley and Christies Beach facilities is nearing completion, and will connect to the National Electricity Market in coming months.