South Australia Looking to Solar and Energy Storage to Achieve Zero Net Electricity Costs by 2020

by | Apr 25, 2018


South Australia’s SA Water is looking to install 152 megawatts of solar PV generation and 35 megawatt hours of energy storage over the next two years, to realize its ambitious goal of achieving zero net electricity costs by 2020.

A 2017 report from Infrastructure Australia says that Australians can expect to pay double for their water supply within 20 years unless there are big reforms. To combat such a drastic increase, utilities and efficiency organizations are looking to renewable energy and energy storage. Distributing generation and storage capacity across approximately 70 of its sites around the state is forecast to reduce SA Water’s electricity operating costs and deliver new revenue, to achieve the zero net outcome.

SA Water Chief Executive Roch Cheroux said neutralizing the company’s electricity costs – which reached $55 million for 220 gigawatt hours in 2016-17 – will produce an operational saving to be passed on to customers in keeping with the objectives of the independent regulatory process.

“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 Roch.

“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.”

An independent review of the deployment plan and economic assumptions has confirmed its feasibility, with benefits to be realized incrementally from the start of installation.

Energizing the solar arrays will be SA Water’s first focus, with the selection and acquisition of storage to be informed by a series of thermal, flywheel and battery trials currently being progressed with specialist technology partners.

“We’re now looking to hear from experienced and capable suppliers who can help deliver arrays ranging in size from 100 kilowatts to 13 megawatts, at metropolitan and regional locations.”

A further $10 million investment in up to six megawatts of solar photo-voltaic panels to be positioned 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.

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