SA Water, South Australia's largest provider of water and sewerage services, will reduce its demand on the grid and increase its renewable energy generation and storage capacity, in an ambitious plan to achieve zero net electricity costs within the next three years.
The utility serves 1.6 million people across South Australia and is one of the largest electricity users in the state, with energy-intensive pumping and treatment operations consuming 220 gigawatt hours in 2016/17 at a cost of around $55 million.
SA Water's Chief Executive Roch Cheroux said sustainably reducing operational expenses like electricity will help SA Water keep its customers’ water and sewerage charges as low and stable as possible.
"The 2020 target will be progressed through a range of complementary initiatives that will see mature technologies embraced for immediate impact.
"A range of innovative emerging technologies will also be tested in partnership with local and international providers," Roch said.
"It’s important to be bold when it comes to innovation and achieving the kind of leaps we are after."
SA Water will initially invest $10 million on up to six megawatts of solar photo-voltaic panels to be installed across some of its large metropolitan sites, with the first installations expected to begin in the first half of next year.
A $500,000 pilot 100 kilowatt solar photo-voltaic and 50 kilowatt hour battery storage system is also currently being installed at SA Water’s Crystal Brook workshop, chosen for the size and orientation of its roof, and potential for high-quality solar irradiance.
The other pilot projects being funded by technology partners that will move into testing phases in 2018 include:
* Floating solar photo-voltaic arrays on reservoirs
* Silicon thermal storage to complement existing biogas generation
* Flywheel mechanical battery storage systems.
Further capital investment will be guided by the outcomes of the pilot projects and be considered on a case by case basis to ensure the best return on investment and outcome for SA Water’s customers.
"We’ve already been reducing our electricity costs by more than $3 million a year since 2013, so we know that with a concerted push, our goal is ambitious, but within reach," Roch said.
"Every step we make towards it will deliver savings for our business, and therefore our customers."
SA Water's existing and successful energy management portfolio includes biogas power generation (a by-product of the sewage treatment process) and hydroelectric systems (harnessing the force of moving water within the network to generate electricity).
Through renewable energy generation, the utility's Bolivar and Glenelg Wastewater Treatment Plants are now 92 and 80 per cent energy self-sufficient respectively.
Hydroelectric systems at Hope Valley, Seacliff Park and the Adelaide Desalination Plant (ADP) supply approximately 7000 megawatt hours per year, equating to 14 per cent of the total electricity produced by SA Water.
In addition to this, SA Water is continuing to purchase electricity on the wholesale spot market, allowing major water pumping to occur during periods of low electricity prices, helping keep customers water costs down.
"Our sustained focus on renewable energy generation is also helping reduce carbon dioxide emissions and contributing to greenhouse gas reduction targets," Roch said.
"In recent research activities, our customers confirmed that using or generating renewable energy was their preferred way for us to achieve further reductions."
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Phone: (08) 7424 2477
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For all other SA Water-related enquiries, please call our Customer Care Centre on 1300 SA WATER (1300 729 283).