The South Australian government has shortlisted four companies to install 500,000 solar panels on key infrastructure.
The project will see the successful vendors working with SA Water to fix rooftop and ground-based solar panels to 93 of its sites across the states.
SA Minister for Environment and Water David Spears said the state government was committed to easing the cost of living pressures.
“…That’s why we have already established an independent inquiry into water pricing and remain committed to continuing with this groundbreaking initiative,” he said.
“This solar project is the single largest way SA Water can reduce its operating costs to deliver sustainable savings, and a low and stable price path for its customers.
“SA Water’s solar generation capacity will be enough to power 50,000 average South Australian homes, and being coupled with storage means it will also help manage electricity network demand across the state and deliver the reliable grid outlined in our Government’s Energy Plan,” Mr Spears said.
The contracts will be awarded in the coming months, and is expected to be completed by 2020.
It will combine 154 megawatts of new solar generation, with around 34 megawatt hours of energy storage devices to neutralise SA Water’s electricity and network costs, which reached $55 million in 2016/17.
SA Water Chief Executive Roch Cheroux said the organisation, by its nature, was energy intensive but had already adopted several cost saving measures.
“Through a range of energy initiatives like biogas and hydroelectric generation, and trading as a market participant, we’ve cut more than $3 million a year from our electricity bills since 2013 – and now we’re going to see another big step-change,” said Mr Cheroux.
“We recently installed a small trial system at our Crystal Brook depot with 100 kilowatt of panels and a 50-kilowatt hour battery, which is providing energy for the site and has already reduced its draw from the grid by 30 per cent.”
Construction has already begun on an extra 5 megawatt of solar photovoltaic arrays at metropolitan water and waste water treatment plants, including a 1.5 megawatt system at the Hope Valley Precinct.