South Australia’s water utility SA Water is planning to install 152MW of solar photovoltaic (PV) generation and 35MWh of energy storage over the next two years in order to achieve its goal of zero net electricity costs by 2020.
The utility anticipates that by distributing solar energy and stored energy across 70 sites in the state can reduce electricity operating costs and deliver new revenues for SA Water.
SA Water chief executive Roch Cheroux said: “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.
“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.
“The maturity of solar technology has allowed us to confidently determine how and where it can assume supply for our energy-intensive water treatment and pumping operations, and export to the market to return revenue.”
Cheroux further explained that by neutralising the company’s electricity costs, which reached A$55m ($41m) for 220GWh in 2016-2017, will see an operational saving to be passed onto customers in keeping with the objectives of the independent regulatory process.
For the new solar project, an independent review of the deployment plan and economic assumptions was carried out, which confirmed the feasibility to establish the project.
Cheroux added: “We’re now looking to hear from experienced and capable suppliers who can help deliver arrays ranging in size from 100kW to 13MW, at metropolitan and regional locations.
“Our range of energy initiatives like biogas and hydroelectric generation, and trading as a market participant, has cut more than A$3m ($2.2m) a year from our electricity bills since 2013.
“Scaling-up our solar capacity will jolt our energy management programme towards our goal of zero net electricity costs by 2020.”