Hamilton gets Australia-first solar array

15 November 2017


A new solar system on Hamilton’s Water Treatment Plant is part of Wannon Water’s commitment to help tackle climate change.

The project is believed to be the first large-scale solar system installed on the roof of an Australian water utility tank, helping to unlock the future potential for this type of installation for the Australian water sector.

A total of 344 high-efficiency solar PV panels have been placed on the roof of the clear water storage tank, reducing the plant’s demand on the electricity grid by 25 per cent and reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 150,000 kilograms each year.

Wannon Water Managing Director Andrew Jeffers said new system 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.

“It’s an excellent example of how innovative thinking can deliver multiple benefits for our customers, the environment and the communities we serve,” Mr Jeffers said.

“Wannon Water is committed to maximising the efficiency of our business by using our initiative and embracing innovation, reducing our operating costs and keeping bills down for customers.”

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 seven years through reduced energy usage. It has an estimated operating life of 25 years.

“On sunny days, the entire water treatment plant can be 100 per cent powered by renewable energy, with any excess being exported to neighbouring properties via a grid connection. On its first full day of operation, the system produced enough energy to supply 70 per cent of the daily requirements for the plant which produces clean drinking water for Hamilton, Dunkeld and Tarrington.”

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 was recently showcased at the All-Energy Exhibition in Melbourne, attracting attention from both local and international visitors, as a leading example of water sector innovation in the renewable energy sector.

Contractors installed the panels on racking systems across the roof which have the advantage of being above any shading from trees or adjoining buildings. Temperature and irradiance sensors provide data to assist with automatic management.

Wannon Water installed a similar solar panel array at its Gateway Road office in Warrnambool in March and is planning to install a wind turbine at its Portland Water Reclamation Plant. It is also investigating the installation of renewable energy systems on its other facilities across the region.