Council's Solar-powered Treatment Plants Have a Bright Future

Published on 01 December 2021

Nowra cropped solar PV.jpg

Shoalhaven City Council has recently installed an additional 445 solar panels as part of its efforts to slash its corporate carbon emissions and reduce the running costs of its wastewater treatment plants.   

Shoalhaven Water, Council’s Water Utility, oversaw the installation of the 178 kilowatts of new solar photovoltaics (PV) across three of its wastewater treatment plants, Nowra (100 kW), Bomaderry (50 kW) and Culburra (28 kW). Both the Nowra and Bomaderry solar arrays are ground-mounted, whereas the Culburra plant has a roof-top system.  

The solar systems are expected to generate around 250,000 kilowatt hours (kWh) of electricity annually and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by around 200 tonnes per year.  

Shoalhaven Water’s Executive Manager, Robert Horner, said that Council’s most recent solar panel installation at Nowra Wastewater Treatment Plant further demonstrates Council’s commitment to investing in sustainable energy solutions that will help it achieve a corporate net zero greenhouse gas emissions target by 2050.  

“The solar PV systems supply cost-effective renewable electricity during the daytime to offset some of the plant’s grid electricity needs. The solar systems are installed ‘behind-the-meter’, which also avoids costly electricity network charges as the power is generated onsite”, said Mr Horner.  

“By mid-2022, Council is on track to have solar PV installed at 11 of our 13 wastewater treatment plants, along with renewable energy generation at three of our water treatment plants”, he said. 

Council has adopted a corporate net zero greenhouse gas emissions target by 2050, with interim emissions reduction targets of 25% by 2025 and 50% by 2030.  

Grid electricity consumption to operate its corporate and community facilities, accounts for almost half of Council’s total carbon emissions. To reduce these emissions, Council is currently investigating a long-term renewable Power Purchase Agreement to secure its future electricity needs, reach its sustainability targets and achieve cost savings.  

Local renewable energy generation from solar farms, biogas and landfill gas plants, may also contribute to Council’s future energy needs, as they offer economic, social and environmental outcomes to the region. 

Image: Shoalhaven Water’s largest (100 kW) and most recent solar PV installation at Nowra Wastewater Treatment Plant.