Victorian water authority taps into large-scale renewable energy market

Victorian government-owned water authority GWMWater is branching into large-scale renewable energy generation with construction set to begin on a 6.5 MW solar array and battery energy storage system near the town of Nhill in the state’s west.

The Nhill Renewable Energy Facility will include a 6.5 MW solar farm comprising more than 9,000 PV panels and a 2.75 MW / 6.7 MWh battery energy storage system. The system is being jointly developed by Grampians Wimmera Mallee Water (GWMWater) and South Australian-headquartered energy infrastructure company Vibe Energy.

The renewable energy facility will be jointly owned and operated by the two parties with energy generated by the asset to offset grid electricity use across GWMWater’s operations.

GWMWater Managing Director Mark Williams said the Nhill project is part of organisation’s broader clean energy strategy that is aiming to combine new energy generation facilities with its existing assets and systems “to become a net-generator of electricity and supply local businesses and communities.”

Williams said GWMWater has already installed 2.3 MW of behind-the-meter solar at its facilities but the Nhill project mark’s the organisation’s first venture into large-scale energy generation with direct connection into the local electricity grid.

“This is a major and exciting step forward for GWMWater, working towards becoming a carbon-neutral net-generator of electricity,” he said, noting the corporation is committed to securing 100% of its energy consumption from renewable sources by 2025.

“The Nhill facility, along with solar generation that has been installed at 59 other GWMWater sites will enable us to become more self-sufficient in locally generating the energy[2] we need to operate water and wastewater services.”

Construction of the Nhill Renewable Energy Facility is scheduled to commence later this month with Melbourne-based contractor Next Generation Electrical awarded the engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contract.

The facility is expected to be operational from early next year. GWMWater said when fully operational, the project will offset 70% of the organisation’s total electricity use across its 330 pump stations, treatment facilities, offices and depots.

GWMWater’s operations cover a large part of the state and provide water and wastewater services to about 32,000 urban and 11,000 rural customers.

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References

  1. ^ Posts by David Carroll (www.pv-magazine-australia.com)
  2. ^ locally generating the energy (www.pv-magazine-australia.com)
  3. ^ editors@pv-magazine.com (www.pv-magazine-australia.com)

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