Auckland’s electricity and water utility companies have announced a project to build New Zealand’s largest solar array in the heart of Auckland’s North Shore, by floating it on top of the Rosedale wastewater treatment pond near the Northern Motorway.
Electricity and water providers Vector Group and Watercare will collaborate to deploy the array. It will be used to supplement electricity from the grid, as well as cogeneration from biogas, which is already generated on-site from wastewater treatment.
The electricity is used for pumping and aeration for natural bacteria that help break down the waste as part of the treatment process.
Watercare has an ambitious program to reduce its energy use by 8 GWh by 2022 and to achieve energy self-sufficiency at its Mangere and Rosedale wastewater treatment plants by 2025. Solar installations such as this one will help Watercare achieve its targets.
Vector Group CEO Simon Mackenzie and Watercare chief executive Raveen Jaduram said the system, delivered by Vector PowerSmart, would mark a number of firsts for New Zealand.
“It’s the first time floating solar will be seen in New Zealand and the first megawatt-scale solar project to be confirmed,” said Mackenzie. “It can generate enough power over a year to run the equivalent of 200 average New Zealand homes for a year,” he added.
“Even larger systems are already common overseas and with reports out of Australia of costs as low as 4-5c per kWh, when that scale arrives here we’ll see solar’s real potential to set a new cap on the wholesale market which over the past few days has been around double that”.
“Vector PowerSmart’s capability to design and deliver this innovative system shows how new energy solutions are key to helping business reach their economic and environmental goals, and we’re proud to be working with Watercare to help it achieve both”.
Watercare chief executive Raveen Jaduram said, “The project is a fantastic example of how utilities can work together for the benefit of their communities”.
“As a large user of energy, it’s important that we look at ways of reducing our environmental footprint and becoming more self-sufficient. Innovative solutions like this on top of wastewater ponds are a smart way to reduce operational costs”.
Highlights of New Zealand’s first floating solar project:
• The project is funded and hosted by Watercare and delivered by Vector PowerSmart
• First ever floating solar confirmed for deployment in New Zealand
• Located on Watercare’s Rosedale Wastewater Treatment Plant on Auckland’s North Shore
• Visible to road users heading north along State highway 1, which is adjacent to the site
• First megawatt-scale solar system confirmed in NZ, each year generating enough electricity to power 200 average NZ homes for a year
• More than 2700 solar panels (Vector Lights has 248) and 3000 floating pontoons
• Largest solar project of any type so far confirmed in New Zealand and more than twice the size of the country’s current largest solar array
• Reduction of 145 tonnes of CO2e each year – equivalent to the emissions from driving 66 cars in NZ