Work is set to begin on the construction of a 19MW solar farm at Melbourne Water’s Eastern Treatment Plant (ETP) in January 2021, with the contract being awarded to a local Melbourne-based company.
The new solar farm will become one of the largest behind-the-meter solar installations in the nation, helping to power Melbourne Water’s assets with the power of the sun.
When complete, Melbourne Water will generate about 65 per cent of the ETP’s power needs from renewable energy sources. The plant at Bangholme treats around 40 per cent of Melbourne’s sewage – about 350 million litres a day – and is world leading in its standards for advanced wastewater treatment.
Member for Carrum, Sonya Kilkenny, said it was great to see Melbourne Water working to generate more renewable energy and reduce carbon emissions.
“With so many renewable energy projects happening all across Victoria it’s exciting to see such a significant solar project right here in our local community.”
Melbourne Water General Manager Program Delivery, Eamonn Kelly, said the proposed 19MW solar farm, to be built on land adjacent to the ETP, features 39,000 solar panels and will create significant amounts of renewable electricity to help power the plant.
“We’ve been generating electricity from sewage gas at the plant since it opened in 1975 and can supply 30 per cent of our electricity needs. With the addition of this solar plant, that capability will more than double to about 65 per cent – similar to the power required to run 6,000 homes a year,” Mr Kelly said.
“This will take a significant amount of pressure off the grid and will deliver the important benefit of reducing our carbon emissions by more than 30,000 tonnes a year.”
The contract to build the solar farm has been awarded to Melbourne-based company Beon Energy Solutions. Beon General Manager, Glen Thomson, said the company was delighted to be working on such an innovative project.
“Beon looks forward to working on construction of the ETP solar farm and assisting Melbourne Water to decarbonise its operations. This is a very exciting project.”
Establishing a solar farm to help power the ETP is a practical way for Melbourne Water to cut its greenhouse gas emissions, and tackle climate change. The project is a key part of Melbourne Water’s obligation to halve its emissions by 2025 on its path to reduce them to net zero by 2030.
In 2019/2020 the ETP treated 145 billion litres of sewage, and delivered 5.5 billion litres of recycled water to customers.
Work is scheduled to begin on-site in January, with the solar farm due to be up and running by mid-2022.