More Solar Powering WA Water Corporation

Water Corporation solar installation

Western Australia’s Water Corporation has taken the wraps off its largest solar power system installation to date.

Installed on the rooftop of Water Corporation’s office in the Perth suburb of Balcatta, 688 solar panels make up the new 310kW system. These modules are in addition to 348 panels installed in March 2019, part of a rollout that year involving nine Water Corporation offices, workshops and depots.

With the new $550,000 project complete, the system will provide almost all the power required for Water Corporation’s Balcatta office during daylight hours. Without knowing the original system size it’s hard to say how much the total setup will generate, but just the 310kW addition should crank somewhere in the region of 534,000 kWh a year.

$30 Million+ Spend On Solar Energy Projects

We can expect to see more solar power systems rolled out on various Water Corporation assets in the time ahead. Early last year, the McGowan Government committed $30 million over three years for Water Corporation solar energy projects across the state, which would see an estimated 45,000 solar panels installed when complete.

According to the Balcatta announcement, in 2020-21 Water Corporation’s renewable energy program added about 1,500 megawatt hours of  generation (assumed: annual generation) at 14 sites, including two solar/battery hybrid installations.

Prior to last year’s announcement and between 2018 and 2020, the McGowan Government invested $2.8 million on 30 renewable energy projects at Water Corporation sites throughout the State, including six in regional Western Australia. And prior to that the utility already had systems in place including at Exmouth’s southern borefield, and a trial using a hybrid solar-diesel power system to deliver drinking water from a borefield to Broome back in 2016.

Towards Net Zero

Office energy use aside, pumping water and wastewater across 2.6 million square kilometres of Western Australia is an energy intensive business, and that can mean emissions intensive.

“Renewable energy sources, such as the major solar installation at its Balcatta office, are part of Water Corporation’s ongoing work to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from its operations, and will help underpin the Corporation’s commitment to be a net-zero greenhouse gas emission utility by 2050 or earlier,” said WA Water Minister Dave Kelly.

Water Corporation committing to achieving net zero emissions by 2050 is in line with that of its masters (the Western Australian Government). That’s a low bar given the circumstances, but a bar nonetheless. It’s not only doable, but very doable and achievable much earlier using renewables, which should save the utility a bundle of bucks on energy costs.

With commercial solar power being so affordable these days, it’s not so much a question of if a business can afford it, but more one of if it can afford not to be harvesting solar energy.

The solar  program is only one part of Water Corporation’s strategy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions – which includes energy efficiency (often a low-hanging fruit), tree planting, and emissions offsets. Some might consider emissions offsets to be the last refuge of scoundrels, but it depends on the nature of the offsets purchased and overall intentions.

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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