The New Zealand water industry is trying to cope with a rapidly growing population, the most significant in Auckland. Consequently there is significant ongoing investment in water, wastewater and transmission assets. With increasing industry-wide interest in achieving carbon neutrality, there is an opportunity for renewable energy to play an integral part in reducing water sector energy costs and providing off grid renewable energy solutions.
In 2015 Beca was commissioned by the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) to undertake a study to investigate the opportunities and barriers of implementing renewable energy solutions in the Australian water industry. The Australian water sector is a significant consumer of energy.
To identify renewable energy priority areas, a staged investigation methodology was employed consisting of literature reviews, stakeholder engagement initiatives and multiple-criteria analysis to evaluate opportunities to overcome barriers to improve renewable energy use.
As a result of the ARENA study, the four priority areas that were identified are: renewables in water pumping and irrigation, bioenergy in wastewater treatment, energy storage technologies and demand management, and water specific renewables including mini-hydro, floating solar and small scale renewable desalination.
This paper will discuss these four priority areas and how renewable energy technologies identified as part of the study rank at an Australian and international water sector level, and how the New Zealand water sector could potentially benefit from these opportunities.