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The panels are on!

In February this year, Enerven was awarded the first stage of SA Water’s ground mount solar project. The project is the first of its kind for SA Water, and is the initial step in helping SA Water neutralise their energy bills and deliver zero net electricity costs by 2020.

Owned by the people of South Australia, SA Water is responsible for providing world class water services to more than 1.7 million customers across the state. Employing more than 1,500 people in a range of industries, from engineering to microbiology, they provide safe, clean drinking water. Once this water has been used, it is sent to SA Water’s treatment facilities to remove the waste and reduce the environmental impact. The utility manages more than 27,000km of water mains, including 9,266 km in the Adelaide metropolitan area, and works extremely hard to ensure SA’s water is high quality, safe to drink and always available.

Being an immensely energy intensive industry, the main motivation behind the project is to reduce SA Water’s staggering electricity bill which came in at $55 million for the 16/17 financial year making SA Water one of the state’s largest electricity users. Their proactive approach to renewable energy has already seen their electricity bill being reduced each year, but ultimately, electricity SA Water generates and exports to the market will off-set the cost of electricity it draws from the grid and network charges, to achieve the zero net outcome.

The first stage of the project will see three metropolitan SA Water sites have ground mount solar installed, with Enerven being responsible for the design and construction at all three sites. The initial sites include Hope Valley Water Treatment Plant (1.5MW), Glenelg Waste Water Treatment Plant (1.32MW), and Christies Beach Waste Water Treatment Plant (1.32MW).

Hope Valley Solar PanelsPanel installation at Hope Valley

Stage 1 of the project is well underway for Enerven, with solar panels being installed at both Christies Beach and Hope Valley. The Glenelg site is having the last of its piling put in before the racking and panels are installed toward the end of August. Prior to this, the sites require a large amount of civil works to happen to get them ready for the solar install. All sites are first surveyed for site design, before being levelled and graded ready for the piles and racking to be installed. The sites are also trenched in order for the HV and AC cabling to be laid, which is what connects the solar to the electricity network. Each site will also house a custom-built transformer, as well as a specially designed switchroom, which is essentially the “brain” of the solar array and makes the decisions about how to distribute the energy generated.


Christies Beach during civil works Christie’s Beach during civil works

Christies Beach during panel installation
Christie’s Beach during solar panel installation

The first stage of the project, although not quite over, has been an intense but exciting experience for Enerven. The Enerven team have invested some serious hours to ensure this project is delivered to its tight deadline. It has taken a huge amount of collaboration and teamwork and it has been inspiring to see the team so willing to go the extra mile to ensure its success. Given the views at some of the locations, it is easy to see why the team are enjoying this project, with Christies Beach boasting some beautiful sunsets to date. The project is due for completion late October, with the Glenelg site to be the final site commissioned and operational.

Sunset at Christies Beach site Sunset at Christies Beach