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The world’s largest fully moveable, single-location solar array is taking shape at Adelaide’s Happy Valley Reservoir as part of an ambitious renewable energy initiative by SA Water to reduce its operating expenses and deliver significant environmental benefits to South Australia.

More than 30,000 solar photovoltaic (PV) panels are in the process of being positioned at the reservoir reserve in Adelaide’s south, generating a total of more than 17,000 megawatt hours of energy per year.

Created by Australian-based solar innovator 5B, the unique Maverick solar panels are pre-wired, fabricated and folded to allow for each panel to be delivered and installed in just one day, and can be fully re-mobilised and moved several times.

SA Water Chief Executive, David Ryan, said Happy Valley is one of more than 30 SA Water solar sites being constructed across metropolitan and regional South Australia.

“With our extensive water and wastewater operations making us one of the largest electricity consumers in South Australia, being able to generate solar electricity at sites like Happy Valley will make us more resilient to the volatility of the electricity market,” Mr Ryan said.

“Not only does this solar array have the generation capacity to almost double the energy requirements of the Happy Valley Water Treatment Plant, but it also reduces our emissions by more than 7,600 tonnes.

“The positive impact of our zero cost energy future will also be our environmental footprint, with the total estimated emissions reduction the equivalent of planting seven million trees.

“We have engaged with the Happy Valley community throughout this project to develop a solution to reduce the visual amenity of such a large solar array, including the ability to reduce the array area, and planting grasses, shrubs and other native vegetation to create windbreakers and vegetation screens.

“This is such an exciting project that will make a real difference to our operations, and ultimately, by working towards our zero cost energy future, we aim to sustainably keep prices low for our customers.”

Water stored in the Happy Valley Reservoir is treated at the nearby Happy Valley Water Treatment Plant, which produces clean and safe drinking water for more than 40 per cent of SA Water customers across metropolitan Adelaide.

The array at Happy Valley forms part of SA Water’s industry-leading renewable energy project aiming to achieve a zero cost energy future, headlined by the installation of more than 500,000 solar panels producing a total of 242 gigawatt hours of green energy each year.

SA Water’s zero cost energy future initiative has already seen over 160,000 solar panels positioned at sites like the Bolivar Wastewater Treatment Plant, Adelaide Desalination Plant and major pump stations along the Morgan to Whyalla Pipeline.

“Our large water and wastewater network across South Australia provides us with the unique position of having a large number of land holdings and buildings near existing electricity networks, to enable this large-scale solar project,” Mr Ryan said.

“In the same way that many South Australians have harnessed the benefits of solar panels at home, we are capitalising on some of our physical assets to work harder for us while still performing their vital functions of delivering trusted water and wastewater services to our customers.”

More information about SA Water’s zero cost energy future program is available at sawater.com.au.

Charlotte Pordage is Editor of Utility magazine, a position she has held since November 2018. She joined the team as an Associate Editor in October 2017, after sharpening her writing and editing skills across a range of print and digital publications. Charlotte graduated from Royal Holloway, University of London, in 2011 with joint honours in English and Latin. When she's not putting together Australia's only dedicated utility magazine, she can usually be found riding her horse or curled up with a good book.

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