Solar project contract awarded

Media release issued Thursday 23 March 2017


Barwon Water’s first solar energy project is a step closer with a contract for its design and construction awarded to Beon Energy Solutions.

The array of 2,880 panels at Barwon Water’s Black Rock environmental precinct will feed renewable energy directly to the Black Rock Water Reclamation Plant – the corporation’s largest energy using site.

At a rated capacity of 1,000 kilowatts (1 megawatt), the project will generate around 1,300,000 kilowatt hours of electricity a year, which is enough to power about 300 homes, and save around 1500 tonnes of carbon emissions. The project will initially save more than $130,000 in yearly operating costs and will increase if grid electricity prices rise.

With completion expected by December, it is likely to be the first megawatt-scale solar farm to operate in southern Victoria.

Barwon Water Chairman Jo Plummer said the project was part of a program to achieve 100 per cent renewable energy use by 2025.

“Electricity use is responsible for 81 per cent of Barwon Water’s carbon emissions profile and represents the best opportunity to achieve significant savings,” Ms Plummer said.

“Investing in on-site solar will directly reduce Barwon Water’s use of grid electricity and associated carbon emissions and increase renewable generation,” she said.

“With a payback period of 11 years, we see the project as a solid investment for the future, both in terms of an ongoing reduction in operating costs and increased environmental benefits.”

The 1 megawatt solar array will achieve a 5 per cent reduction in Barwon Water’s electricity-related emissions. Overall, it will mean 13 per cent of Black Rock water reclamation plant’s electricity is produced from a renewable source. Future renewable energy investments will see this progressively climb toward 100 per cent by 2025.

Minister for Water Lisa Neville commended Barwon Water on the project.

“Water for Victoria sets out a range of climate mitigation strategies for water utilities to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions and it's great to see Barwon Water getting on with it. Projects like this help us reduce our emissions and are an example of the practical measures we are delivering to help tackle climate change,” Minister Neville said.

Glen Thomson, General Manager of Beon Energy Solutions said he’s excited by the opportunity to work with Barwon Water.

“This is an organisation leading the way in the water industry with their application of renewable energy solutions to support their operations. The Black Rock project is a real and tangible demonstration of their well thought out strategy to achieve their 100 per cent renewables target, and at Beon we’re grateful for the opportunity to play such an important part in helping them achieve it.

“As an energy solutions provider with a reputation for delivering the right outcomes for customers we’re pleased to be supporting Barwon Water to find the right solutions for their needs.”

Barwon Water also operates a wind turbine at Breamlea that supplies energy to the Victorian power grid. Maintenance works were completed last week and the turbine resumed generating energy on Friday.

The turbine is the longest operating in Victoria and was originally installed as a demonstration unit by the State Electricity Commission of Victoria and the Victorian Solar Energy Council (now Sustainability Victoria) in November, 1987. Barwon Water purchased the turbine in 2003 and restored it into service in early 2004.