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World’s largest portable solar array project commissioned in South Australia

SA Water is installing the moveable, single-location solar array in Adelaide as part of its commitment to renewable energy.

The first of more than 30,000 solar photovoltaic (PV) panels are being positioned over a 12-hectare site at Adelaide’s Happy Valley Reservoir, generating a total of more than 17 GW hours of energy per year.

Created by Australian-based solar innovator 5B, the 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.

Located in the south of the city, the Happy Valley Reservoir supplies water to over half a million residents, and has a capacity of 12.6 gigalitres.

The array forms part of SA Water’s Zero Cost Energy Future initiative, where the utility is installing more than 500,000 solar panels producing a total of 242 GW hours of green energy each year, along with 34 MW hours of battery storage.

SA Water plans to invest more than $300 million in solar and energy storage in 2020. Chief Executive David Ryan said Happy Valley is one of more than 30 SA Water solar sites being constructed across the state.

“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,” he said.

The energy generation will reduce operational costs and help SA Water provide reliable services while reducing its carbon footprint.

“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.”

The 25-year lifespan of these renewable energy options will offset emissions within six months. To date, SA Water’s zero cost energy future initiative has already seen around 160,000 solar panels positioned at sites including the Bolivar Wastewater Treatment Plant, Adelaide Desalination Plant and major pump stations along the Morgan to Whyalla Pipeline.

“We have engaged with the Happy Valley community throughout this project to develop a solution to improve

SA Water's Chief Executive David Ryan. SA Water's Chief Executive David Ryan.

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,” David added.

“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.”

The ambitious renewable energy initiative will reduce its operating expenses and deliver significant environmental benefits to South Australia.

Water stored in the Happy Valley Reservoir is treated at the nearby Happy Valley Water Treatment Plant, which supplies water to more than 40 percent of metropolitan Adelaide.