Sun shines on water and sewer sites as solar project wraps up

MidCoast Council

A two-year project to reduce the use of non-renewable energy at five MidCoast Council water and sewer sites is now complete.

More than 400 solar panels have been installed at Tuncurry Recycled Water Treatment Plant, Bulahdelah Water Treatment Plant, Tea Gardens Sewer Pump Station 13 and the Coopernook and Manning Point sewage treatment plants, enabling the sites to generate a considerable proportion of their own energy.

Council’s Executive Manager of Water and Systems, Marnie Coates, said the project would not only help reduce Council’s carbon footprint, it would deliver significant cost savings over time as well.

“Installing solar power systems at these sites is an environmental and financial investment in the future,” said Ms Coates.

“Thanks to the reduced electricity costs at the sites, we expect the project to pay itself off within five years. After that, the sites will continue to draw energy from the sun free-of-charge, which will result in ongoing savings.

“More broadly, the project aligns with our Climate Change Strategy and puts us a step closer to achieving our commitment of powering all Council operations with 100 per cent renewable energy by 2040.”

Ms Coates said an impressive feature of the new solar power systems was the analytics hardware that had been installed to monitor their performance.

“This hardware is great because it gives us real-time data on how much electricity we’re generating, how much we’re consuming, and how much we’re delivering back to the grid. It also lets us know what we should be generating based on current weather conditions, so we can identify and resolve any issues if they arise.”

In addition to installing solar power systems at these large water and sewer sites, Council has been powering all its small water and sewer sites with 100 per cent renewable energy since the start of 2023.

Ms Coates said purchasing accredited renewable energy from an electricity provider was a sustainable way to power some of Council’s smaller assets.

“Many of these sites don’t have a large enough physical footprint to generate their own energy,” said Ms Coates.

“Purchasing green energy allows us to reduce the CO2 emissions associated with our water and sewer operations when solar power or other forms of onsite renewables aren’t an option.”

With water and sewer infrastructure accounting for around 80 per cent of Council’s overall power use, Ms Coates said she was proud her team was finding ways to reduce emissions and embrace renewable energy.

/Public Release. View in full here.