Renewable energy has long since dominated the electricity industries, however, findings in a new ARENA report highlight renewable opportunities arising in the water sector.
A new ARENA report entitled, Opportunities for renewable energy in the Australian water sector, has identified ways for renewables to be integrated as significant components of the water sectors’ energy supply.
The study by consultancy agency, Beca, investigated the opportunities, barriers and current trends for renewable energy use, in order to assess how ARENA could have the most impact in influencing improved renewable energy use within the water sector.
As a result of the study, four priority areas have been proposed to provide the framework for informing ARENA’s investment and knowledge sharing activities:
- Renewables in water pumping and irrigation
- Bioenergy in wastewater treatment
- Storage technologies and demand management
- Water specific technologies (including mini-hydro, floating solar PV and small scale desalination)
The report found that in raw water, there were limited opportunities existing for new large scale hydro projects, but there are opportunities within existing hydroelectric generation, as well as a growing interest in floating solar PV technology, including pilot scale deployment.
In regards to desalination, the report found that there is a limited expected medium term development of large scale desalination facilities.
However, the report also found that existing desalination facilities energy use is largely offset with GreenPower and other grid supplied renewable energy sources.
Within desalination there is an increasing potential for small-scale desalination facilities to be used as alternative water sources for farming practices. The report also found there to be a growing use of small-scale hydro for energy recovery in water distribution.
Key findings from the wastewater sector found that there is growing interest in co-digestion as a means to boost biogas production, particularly for small wastewater facilities, and while there is increasing use of water recycling as an alternative water treatment process, there is limited expected opportunities for renewable energy in this area.
The report also found that in the irrigation and agriculture sector, there is a high cost of electricity and/or diesel for off-grid and fringe of grid locations for water pumping activities and significant existing use of bagasse fired biomass power generation facilities in both NSW and QLD.
Read the full report here.