Melbourne Water takes plunge with 19 MW solar farm


The Melbourne Water solar farm, to be built on land adjacent to the ETP at Bangholme, in southeast Melbourne, will comprise 39,000 solar modules and is expected to produce enough renewable energy to help meet 40% of the plant’s annual power needs.

The ETP already includes a biogas facility that generates approximately 30% of the plant’s annual energy requirements but Melbourne Water general manager program delivery Eamonn Kelly said the solar farm will deliver a significant amount of renewable electricity, helping to power the plant which treats about 330 million litres of sewage a day.

“We’ve been generating electricity from sewage gas at the plant since it opened in 1975 and can supply 30% of our electricity needs. With the addition of this solar plant, that capability will more than double to about 65%, similar to the power required to run 6000 homes a year,” he said.

“This will take a significant amount of pressure off the grid and will deliver the important benefit of reducing our carbon emissions by more than 30,000 tonnes a year.”

Kelly said the project is a key part of Melbourne Water’s obligation to halve its carbon emissions by 2025 on its path to reducing them to net zero by 2030.

“The solar farm is one of the many ways we’re adapting our operations to prepare for a changing climate, reducing our own carbon emissions and generating more renewable energy,” he said.

The facility will be constructed by Victorian-based Beon Energy Solutions which has a growing portfolio of large ground-mounted behind-the-meter installations, including solar projects for Melbourne Airport, Victoria’s Central Highlands Water and Barwon Water.

Melbourne Water said site works for the ETP solar farm were completed in early 2020 and construction of the facility itself is scheduled to begin on site in January. The solar farm is due to be operational by mid-2022.

Beon general manager Glen Thomson said the company, established in 2016 following the rebranding of CitiPower and Powercor Energy Solutions, was delighted to be working on such an innovative project.

“This is a very exciting project,” he said. “Beon look forward to working on construction of the ETP solar farm and assisting Melbourne Water to decarbonise its operations.”

The project is just the latest for Beon which has been involved in a number of major PV projects including the 112 MW Karadoc, the 106 MW Yatpool, the 120 MW Bomen, and the 50 MW Jemalong solar farms.

Melbourne Water, which is planning to establish another solar farm at the Winneke Water Treatment Plant near Christmas Hills,  isn’t the only Australian water utility investing in solar power.

SA Water has also embraced solar with plans to invest more than $300 million to install more than half a million solar panels and 34 MWh of energy storage in order realise its goal of achieving zero net electricity costs by 2020.


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