Solar system upgrade benefits the environment and the community

13 April 2017

Photograph Of Gateway Road Solar Pv Project Aerial Drone Uav April 2017

The environment is not the only beneficiary of a major upgrade to the solar panel system on Wannon Water’s Gateway Road offices in Warrnambool.

Wannon Water has installed a new 99.7 kilowatt system on the roof which is 39 times the capacity of the previous system and will reduce the building’s electricity costs by 26 per cent each year. It is believed to be the largest single solar PV array in south-west Victoria.

Wannon Water Chair Jacinta Ermacora said the old system, installed in 2010, has been removed and will be donated to the South West District Scouts.

“Wannon Water will pay the cost of installing it at the Brucknell Scout Camp where it will reduce power costs for the volunteer organisation and provide benefits for the groups who utilise the facility,” Ms Ermacora said.

“The project complements our vision of going ‘beyond water for strong communities’. It is an excellent example of how innovative thinking can deliver multiple benefits for our customers, the environment and the communities we serve.”

Minister for Water Lisa Neville said the project forms part of Wannon Water’s commitment to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, a target established by the Victorian Government in the recently released Water for Victoria plan. The plan sets out a range of climate mitigation strategies for water utilities, the largest carbon emitters in the public sector.  

“Projects like this help us reduce our emissions and are an example of the practical measures the water sector is delivering to help tackle climate change,” Ms Neville said.

Scouts Inspect Solar Panel System

Wannon Water’s Project Manager Energy Efficiency Murray Dancey said the new solar panel system, which came at a net cost of $120,000, will pay for itself in six to seven years through reduced energy usage. It has an estimated operating life of 25 years.

Contractors installed more than 300 high-efficiency solar PV panels on the building and connected them to the power system last month with sensors providing data to assist with automatic management.

“Overall the new system will reduce the building’s grid-energy-demand by 26 per cent and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 136,000 kilograms each year,” Mr Dancey said.

“On sunny days, the building can be 100 per cent powered by renewable energy, with any excess being exported to neighbouring properties via a grid connection.”

Mr Dancey said the average renewable annual energy output will be more than 125,000 kilowatt hours, which is equivalent to providing clean energy for 22 average residential homes.

“The project is part of Wannon Water’s pledge to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050, with an interim target of a 40 per cent reduction by 2025.”

South West District Scouts Commissioner James Smith thanked Wannon Water for its generous donation which aligns with the Scouting values of mutual support and ecologically sustainable development.

“Scouts value the importance of mutual support and help between members of a community to maximise the quality of life for all. This project, instigated by Wannon Water, is a perfect example of that,” Mr Smith said.

“The installation of solar panels at Brucknell will help us to minimise our ongoing costs at an important community facility and allow us to take positive steps to benefit our environment.”

Wannon Water is planning to install a similar solar panel array at its Hamilton Water Treatment Plant before the end of June. It is also investigating the installation of renewable energy systems on its other facilities across the region.