Damien Dupont (Green Energy Specialist), Watercare Services Ltd.
Solar photovoltaics (solar PV) are fast becoming the go-to renewable electricity source on the global stage and water utilities are uniquely placed to take advantage of this technology.
Businesses and other entities ranging from oil refineries, electricity generators and warehouses through to schools and households now have the ability to generate free, renewable electricity at an affordable cost. Only a few years ago this was out of reach for most, but reductions in capital costs mean that financially-savvy and environmentally aware businesses should now take another look at solar PV as a viable solution.
This paper highlights the expected benefits of ‘behind the meter’ solar PV at water utilities using marginal land assets to add value and help meet strategic objectives. We will examine a number of case studies at Watercare where solar
PV has been installed since 2019 looking at project costs, project delivery, supplier capability and real-world solar output data.
The paper provides comparative analysis and will discuss international trends in solar generation and related technologies such as battery storage. We will identify some lessons-learned to assist other water utilities to learn from Watercare’s experiences and enable them to make informed decisions regarding the future role of solar PV at their business.
As we head into an era of water sector reform there is ample opportunity for water utilities to ‘re-energise’ their operations using solar PV to secure lasting financial and environmental benefits for themselves, their customers and for New Zealand.