Thirteen of Victoria’s public water corporations have banded together to purchase solar energy in an effort to cut water industry carbon emissions.
The venture will operate under a new organisation called Zero Emissions Water Ltd (ZEW). It’s the latest in a suite of climate-friendly announcements from the Andrews Labor Government.
Under the deal, the corporations will buy between 20 to 50 per cent of their energy from the Kiamal Solar Farm in north-west Victoria. The combined purchasing power will allow the group to lower water bills for Victorian customers.
In addition, ZEW forecasts slashing CO2 emissions from Victoria’s water sector by 80,000 tonnes each year.
Water Minister Lisa Neville said climate change was a major threat to Victoria’s water catchments.
“We’ve seen the effects of climate change on our water storage levels, which is why it’s more important than ever to create solutions that will reduce greenhouse gas emissions.”
Solar to power Victoria’s ambitious water targets
The Andrews Government has set a goal of achieving a 42 per cent reduction in the water sector’s emissions by 2025. By 2050, the sector is tasked with achieving net-zero emissions.
To this end, the state established the Intelligent Water Networks Program. The program explored projects designed to reduce emissions and costs for water retailers.
It considered renewable energy generation as a cheap, clean way to accomplish the government’s goals. However, studies found renewable options, like solar panels, were too expensive to allow single corporations to meet individual targets.
PPA the way to cut water industry carbon emissions
Ultimately, it found joint-investment in large-scale power purchase agreements as the ideal method for lowering water sector emissions.
This led to 13 of Victoria’s 18 water corporations forming ZEW Ltd. They then signed a long-term power purchase agreement with Kiamal.
Similarly, other water corps have partnered with community groups on smaller scale solar projects. North East Water’s coalition with Totally Renewable Yackandandah has seen it install a 40 kW solar array and 42 kWh lithium ion battery bank at the town’s water treatment plant.
Victoria’s support for solar power grows
This latest announcement on water industry carbon emissions follows earlier measures from the Victorian government to harness solar power.
The Solar Homes Program, released last year, offers rebates of up to $2,225 on the cost of buying and installing a rooftop solar PV system.
In addition, the government committed $40 million to providing half-price battery storage for 10,000 households under the plan.