Australia, Projects, Renewables, Solar, Storage

Melbourne Water accelerates transition to renewables

Melbourne Water is making strides towards a cleaner future by committing to having its emissions down by 2025 and achieving net-zero emissions by 2030.

“Electricity generation is Australia’s largest source of greenhouse gas emissions and contributes to a large proportion Melbourne Water’s own operational emissions,” Dr Nerina Di Lorenzo, Managing Director of Melbourne Water said.

“Taking action now to transition to a clean energy future will support the delivery of our commitment to a carbon neutral water sector by 2030.”

Since 2005, Melbourne Water has installed 75MW of renewable energy generation to help reduce emissions and combat climate change.

The company’s renewable energy portfolio includes award-winning biogas, hydropower, and solar generation throughout its water supply and sewage network.

One of the company’s newest renewable energy infrastructures is an 18 MW solar farm at the Eastern Treatment Plant (ETP).

Operational since December 2023, the solar farm is one of Australia’s largest ‘behind-the-metre’ solar installations.

It produces 30 gigawatt-hours of electricity per year, reducing 28,800 tonnes of carbon dioxide annually, equivalent to the emissions of 6000 households.

In addition to solar power, Melbourne Water also captures biogas, primarily methane and carbon dioxide, as part of the sewage treatment process.

The recently upgraded biogas handling allows Melbourne Water to maximise the conversion of waste to energy, providing about 30 per cent of ETP’s electricity needs and significantly reducing its carbon footprint.

A newly installed solar farm can now fully power the Winneke Water Treatment Plant at certain times of the day.

The farm, a first of its kind in Australia, utilises cutting-edge terrain tracking sensors and consists of 19,000 solar panels situated on the natural slope around the Sugarloaf Reservoir.

This setup generates 12.4GW hours a year, equivalent to the annual electricity demand of about 2,500 households.

Melbourne Water also harnesses hydropower, the world’s oldest form of renewable energy and the largest renewable source of electricity throughout its water supply network.

The company’s operations at St Albans Reservoir are powered by a new 400 kW hydroelectricity plant, the 16th infrastructure asset of its kind.

A 990kW hydropower plant at O’Shannassy Reservoir is set to begin construction and will be completed in 2025.

“We are in the decade that matters. Our actions now will define our future,” Di Lorenzo said.

“We must also adapt our operations to prepare for a changing climate. The transition to clean energy brings tremendous opportunities. By leveraging both old and new technologies, we can meet the global challenge of reducing the impact of greenhouse gas emissions on our local environment.”

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