Solar to help power Sand Bypass System on Gold Coast

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As one of the country’s most significant engineering feats from the 80s, the Sand Bypass System has an important task of helping maintain safe navigational access through the Gold Coast Seaway entrance. To power its pumps located along the jetty, the system uses a significant amount of energy and is now looking to reduce carbon emissions and drive down operational costs with the help of solar.

Design work is underway on a 100 kW solar array to be installed at the Sand Bypass System at The Spit. Although the system is not big, it is expected to bring big gains in terms of daytime consumption since pumping operations are normally conducted at night during off-peak power periods

“This 100 kW, solar-powered system will produce enough energy to meet the day-time needs of the Sand Bypass System, helping to reduce the annual electricity bill by $24,000,” Queensland Transport and Main Roads Minister Mark Bailey said.

The infrastructure is managed by the Gold Coast Waterways Authority (GCWA), which expects the solar pilot to help determine the solar output potential for the area, the impact of the coastal environment on solar systems and the Sand Bypass System’s energy load profile. GCWA is investing $350,000 in the pilot project.

“We’ll then use this information to determine if the system can be expanded to further reduce our operating costs and our carbon footprint in future,” CEO Hal Morris said, noting the project reinforces the Authority’s commitment to sustainability.

GCWA has awarded the contract to design, install and maintain the pilot solar system to a local company, SAE Group. The Tweed Heads-based installer has undertaken commercial solar installations for the Port of Brisbane, schools involved in the Solar Schools program and numerous businesses in northern New South Wales. It aims to begin installation at the Sand Bypass System in April and finish by the end of June this year.

“The seaway is such an integral part of life on the Gold Coast, and what better way to demonstrate our commitment to a sustainable future than to reduce carbon emissions on one of our greatest natural assets,” said Managing Director, Glen Ashton, noting the group is incredibly excited to power the Seaway Sand Bypass project with solar energy.

The meeting point of local anglers, the Sand Bypass System, transports 500,000 cubic meters of sand from The Spit to South Stradbroke Island each year, helping to keep the Gold Coast Seaway safe and navigable for recreational and commercial vessels.