South Australian government-owned utility SA Water has signed a framework agreement with Enerven to deploy nearly 154MW of new solar generation and 34MWh of energy storage across 70 of its sites in the next 18 months.
SA Water stated that the contract is worth up to $217.5m (A$304m) and is expected to bring return on investment in six years and help the water company in reaching its goal of achieving zero net electricity costs from 2020.
Minister for Environment and Water David Speirs stated that the project could generate nearly 250 jobs during the construction and will engage local Aboriginal population.
Minister Speirs said: “The scale and complexity of this landmark program will deliver opportunities for local businesses across a range of sectors, drawing on South Australian excellence in everything from civil works through to security services, engineering and project management, to high-tech system automation.”
“SA Water staff conceived and shaped this initiative – that’s South Australians leading the way with the smarts and skills to strategically integrate renewable energy and storage within the longest water network in the country.”
SA Water CEO Roch Cheroux stated neutralizing large operating costs like electricity will help deliver low and stable prices for customers.
Roch said: “Our bigger picture is a zero cost energy future, where we regain control over one of our single largest operational expenses. There’s no doubt our ambitious goal will be a stretch, but we won’t lose sight of it.”
“We provide 1.7 million people across South Australia with safe, clean drinking water and reliable sewerage services, every day, and the water and wastewater treatment and pumping operations behind this are very energy intensive and make us one of the biggest electricity users in the state.
The company stated that solar array installation will be done on priority-basis and energy storage devices will follow, after results from trials with traditional and thermal devices to select the most suitable technology combinations.
With the new 154MW solar deployment, SA Water’s solar generation will reach to about 160MW. The company’s initial investment was ($7.2m) A$10m in 2017 to build 6MW solar at Glenelg, Hope Valley and Christies Beach facilities.