South Australia state-run firm SA Water plans to deploy 152MW of solar PV and 35MWh of energy storage over the next two years in order to reach its target of zero net electricity costs by 2020.
SA Water chief executive Roch Cheroux said the company’s electricity costs reached AU$55 million for 220GWh in 2016-17, but neutralising these costs will help to pass on savings to customers. The firm faces heavy costs from energy-intensive water treatment and pumping operations as it provides water and wastewater services to over 1.6 million South Australians.
Under the new plans, the PV generation and storage capacity would be spread across roughly 70 of SA Water's sites around the state. An independent review has already confirmed the project’s feasibility. Installing solar capacity ranging from 100kW-13MW arrays at metropolitan and regional locations will be the first phase. This will be followed by the acquisition of energy storage, after a series of thermal, flywheel and battery trials currently under progress with technology partners.
SA Water has already issued an initial Expression of Interest (EoI) with guidance for prospective vendors.
The firm has previously installed a pilot 100kW solar PV and 50kWh battery storage system at its Crystal Brook Depot. A further AU$10 million investment in up to 6MW of solar at treatment facilities in metropolitan Adelaide was announced in December 2017, with first installation on-track to start at Christies Beach Wastewater Treatment Plant next month.
“We’re working hard to keep our customers’ water prices as low and stable as possible, and big operational circuit breakers like this are essential to achieving savings and future price reductions,” said Cheroux. “Locating generation behind-the-meter will improve our resilience to grid interruptions, significantly reduce our network charges and isolate our business from electricity market price volatility, in both the short and long-term.
“Our range of energy initiatives like biogas and hydroelectric generation, and trading as a market participant, has cut more than AU$3 million a year from our electricity bills since 2013. Scaling-up our solar capacity will jolt our energy management program towards our goal of zero net electricity costs by 2020.”
The state has been a frontrunner in solar-plus-storage initiatives.