Utilities Kingston

South Australia Water (SA Water) has plans to install solar PVs and energy storage systems to achieve a zero net electricity cost by 2020.

SA Water says it will install 152MW of solar PV and 35MWh of energy storage capacity at its sites over the next two years.

The Distributed Energy Resources (DERs) programme will help the water utility to reduce operational expenses through a decrease in the company's energy costs at some 70 sites.

During the 2016-17 financial year, SA Water used 220GWh and spent $55 million towards energy costs.

The project will help improve customer services by keeping consumer water bills affordable.

Roch Cheroux, chief executive at SA Water, said the use of DERs will produce an operational saving to be passed on to customers, in keeping with the objectives of the independent regulatory process.

“We’re working hard to keep our customers’ water prices as low and stable as possible, and big operational circuit breakers like this are essential to achieving savings and future price reductions,” said Roch.

“Locating generation behind the meter will improve our resilience to grid interruptions, significantly reduce our network charges and isolate our business from electricity market price volatility, in both the short and long-term.

“The maturity of solar technology has allowed us to confidently determine how and where it can assume supply for our energy-intensive water treatment and pumping operations, and export to the market to return revenue.”

The programme will initially start with the installation of solar PVs.

The utility will decide which solution providers to partner with in deploying energy storage systems.

SA Water is currently piloting thermal, flywheel and battery energy storage systems.

“We’re now looking to hear from experienced and capable suppliers who can help deliver arrays ranging in size from 100KW to 13MW, at metropolitan and regional locations.”

"Our range of energy initiatives like biogas and hydroelectric generation, and trading as a market participant, has cut more than $3 million a year from our electricity bills since 2013,” said Roch.

SA Water’s solar portfolio began taking shape with the installation of a pilot 100KW solar PV and 50KWh battery storage system at its Crystal Brook Depot.