The Western Australian government has commenced a trial involving hybrid solar-diesel and battery power to transport drinking water from a borefield to Broome.
A first for the state, Water Minister Mia Davies said the trial will make use of the plentiful solar resources in the region. Broome receives very impressive solar irradiation levels of around 5.99 kilowatt hours per square metre each day. Given that level, a little solar goes a longer way than in many other places in Australia.
“If the trial is a success, this innovative system could lead to more water around the State being delivered using clean solar power,” said Minister Davies.
Electricity generated by solar panels will power the bore pump during the day, with excess energy stored in a battery system to be tapped during the evening and in unfavourable conditions. Should skies remain grey for too long, the integrated diesel generator will kick in.
The use of solar could provide significant savings on fuel and will result in a substantial reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.
The system, operational since August, is powerful enough to pump 1.5 million litres of water per day through to Broome’s town water supply scheme.
According to ABC Local, sandstone formations away from Broome’s coastline acts like a massive underground rain tank.
5,000,000,000 litres of the precious liquid are pumped out of bores sunk into the Broome aquifer each year. It’s this aquifer that sustains the town of some 15,000; which swells to three times that population during the tourist season.
The trial should will be complete by August 2017, after which WA’s Water Corporation will evaluate the viability of the system prior to any further developments.
“The State Government, through the Water Corporation, is continually looking at ways of increasing the use of renewable energy wherever it can to deliver services in a way that reduces the impact on the environment,” stated Minister Davies.
Investment in the borefield trial is approximately $1 million, part of more than $32 million invested in the past five years to upgrade Broome’s water supply.