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Around 1,300 solar photovoltaic panels are now helping to power SA Water’s drinking water operations on the Eyre Peninsula, as the utility reaches a significant milestone in its pursuit of a zero-cost energy future.

Installed at SA Water sites in South Australia namely; Port Lincoln, Kimba, Lock, Arno Bay and Caralue Bluff, the roof and ground-mounted panels are among 500,000 panels being installed at 35 locations across South Australia to generate 242GWh of electricity.

Nicola Murphy, senior manager of zero-cost energy future, SA Water, stated that the new Eyre Peninsula solar arrays will produce a combined 770MWh of green energy each year. The arrays are best positioned to maximise the solar radiance, supplying electricity to power their storage tanks, pump stations and Port Lincoln depot.

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Says Murphy: “This focus on green energy will also deliver positive environmental benefits, with the power generated by solar the equivalent to reducing carbon emissions by around 340 tonnes annually.

“Despite COVID-19, we’ve been able to complete our EP solar sites because we had the solar panels ready to go, and followed the guidelines for delivery of construction programmes.

“It’s a great outcome which has kept our contracting partners and suppliers in jobs working on large-scale projects that have flow-on benefits to the South Australian economy while supporting local Eyre Peninsula businesses.”

One of the largest single electricity consumers in the state, SA Water’s intensive drinking water and wastewater pumping and treatment operations throughout a dry 2018/19 cost AU$83 million.

SA Water’s zero cost energy future initiative has already resulted in 150,000 solar panels positioned at sites to date, such as the Bolivar Wastewater Treatment Plant and major pump stations along the Morgan to Whyalla Pipeline, with the remaining panels due to be installed before the end of the year.

“This initiative was designed by our people, and is a demonstration of South Australians leading the way to strategically integrate renewable energy and storage within the longest water network in the country,” Nicola said.