Like many businesses, Melbourne Water has committed to net zero emissions by 2030 and as part of the plan to work towards that, they are investing in cheaper energy sources.
It takes a lot of energy to transfer and treat sewage from across the Greater Melbourne area, so much so that Melbourne Water finds itself among the top 15 energy users in Victoria. The utility says Electricity accounts for the third-largest single operational expense.
In mid-2023, we’re just a couple of years out from their pledge to source 100% of electricity from renewable sources by 2025. Melbourne Water also has the aggressive target of slashing emissions in half by 2025 and continuing to reduce them to net zero by 2030.
Winneke Solar Farm
A new Solar Farm helps power the Winneke Water Treatment Plant, which treats water from Sugarloaf Reservoir nearby.
Depending on the weather and other factors, it can provide up to 100% of the plant’s daily energy needs – and more. Any excess energy is fed into the public electricity grid.
A walking track surrounds the solar farm, allowing the public to see it in action.
- Number of panels: 19,000 (over 10 hectares)
- Power production: 12,400 megawatt hours per year
- Emissions reduction: 12,000 tonnes of carbon per year (equal to the amount generated by 2500 households)
In an Australian first, Melbourne Water used terrain tracking sensors to build the farm on the area’s sloping hills. This enabled the installation of panels with only minimal disturbances to the soil, protecting water quality in the reservoir.
The first panels at the solar farm, operating from mid-2023.
Eastern Treatment Plant Solar Farm
A solar farm at the Eastern Treatment Plant is set to become one of Australia’s largest ‘behind-the-meter’ solar installations. This means all the energy produced will go towards powering the plant, which treats about 40% of Melbourne’s sewage.
The plant already meets about 30% of its electricity needs from biogas captured on-site. Once complete, the solar farm will supply another 22%, increasing on-site generation from renewable sources to 52%.
- Number of panels: 39,000
- Power production: 30 gigawatt hours per year
- Emissions reduction: 28,800 tonnes of carbon per year (equal to the amount generated by 6,000 households)