SA Water “Project Zero” Solar Companies Shortlisted

Solar energy for SA Water

Image: SA Water

Four solar companies have been shortlisted to tender for the installation of 500,000 solar panels on key SA Water infrastructure.

Electricity is a huge expense for SA Water, costing $55 million in 2016/17 –  a cost that is passed on to South Australia’s water customers1. In December last year, SA Water announced a goal of $0 net electricity costs by 2020, to be achieved with renewables-based electricity generation, energy storage, optimisation and efficiency initiatives.

Under the tender, 154 megawatts of solar capacity and approximately 34 megawatt-hours of energy storage is to be installed. The solar energy aspect will generate electricity equivalent to the requirements of 50,000 average South Australian homes.

The project will see solar panels installed at 93 SA Water sites across South Australia and will create an estimated 250 jobs during construction.

“On top of our water pricing inquiry, the new government is pursuing projects like this that make environmental sense and can put downward pressures on water bills,” said Minister for Environment and Water David Speirs. “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.”

The shortlisted companies weren’t named in the release. Contract(s) will be awarded to the successful bidder(s) in coming months, with Project Zero expected to be completed by 2020.

Other SA Water Solar Energy Projects

In addition to this major upcoming project, SA Water recently installed a small trial solar + storage system at its Crystal Brook depot, featuring 100 kilowatts of solar panels and a 50 kilowatt-hour battery system. SA Water Chief Executive Roch Cheroux says the system has reduced the facility’s reliance on the mains grid by 30 per cent.

“We expect to further reduce electricity costs once we implement a predictive control system developed in-house, which uses a complex algorithm to determine the best times to charge and discharge the battery, and at what rate,” said Mr. Cheroux last month.

Work has also commenced on 5 MW of arrays at various water and wastewater treatment plants across metropolitan Adelaide, including a 1.5 MW solar power system at SA water’s Hope Valley precinct. The Hope Valley project will incorporate a 128 kW flywheel energy storage system. This type of storage technology uses a motor to accelerate a rotor that is housed in a low-friction vacuum enclosure. Electrical energy is returned using the motor as a generator.

SA Water will also be trialing floating solar panels at Happy Valley Reservoir, with that project expected to be completed this year. Other facilities currently having solar energy systems installed are the Christies Beach and Glenelg wastewater treatment plants.


  1. In South Australia, even if you don’t use any water, you still pay supply charges if a mains pipe runs by your property
About Michael Bloch

Michael caught the solar power bug after purchasing components to cobble together a small off-grid PV system in 2008. He's been reporting on Australian and international solar energy news ever since.

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