Canberra utility Icon Water is using solar to turn back time on its power bill. Icon uses a lot of power pumping water at its treatment plants and blowing oxygen into some of the water treatment plants for healthy micro-organisms.
Icon’s rollout of solar is aimed at keeping its energy expenditure at 2016-17 levels by the end of the 2023 financial year. As well as saving money, this work will help reduce Icon’s greenhouse gas emissions.
The program will also allow Icon Water to be flexible in reducing electricity demand in response to network peak demand or generation supply shortages.
Icon is installing two solar plants at the Lower Molonglo Water Treatment Plant as part of its $3 million solar rollout across five sites.
The first array of 390 kW is in the final stages of commissioning and regulatory approvals, and is expected to be energised soon. The second solar array of 702 kW is in the design and development application stage, with construction scheduled to begin later this year.
In addition to the Lower Molonglo Water Quality Control Centre, the other sites to use solar arrays are Stromlo Water Treatment Plant, the Cotter Dam and Icon’s Mitchell office.
The solar PV arrays are expected to generate 2250 MWh of electricity each year to power Icon Water’s assets and reduce its impact on the electricity grid by around 6.7 per cent. In future, Icon will be looking at battery energy storage and more panels.
The five sites were determined as the most suitable for efficiency, safety and accessibility.
“As Canberra’s supplier of essential water and sewerage services, we recognise we play a key role in the lives of our community through the protection of public health and the environment,” an Icon spokeswoman says.
“We are continually looking for opportunities to improve the provision of our services to the community in an environmentally sustainable manner. Like many businesses, we recognise the need to reduce our energy consumption, curb our greenhouse gas emissions and limit our contribution to climate change.”
The commitment to renewables has an economic benefit as well. Total annual savings from the Mitchell, Cotter and Stromlo arrays are estimated to have already saved Icon around $500,000 a year.