An example of floating solar panels. Isaac Regional Council will investigate the feasibility of floating solar arrays at its water treatment plants.
An example of floating solar panels. Isaac Regional Council will investigate the feasibility of floating solar arrays at its water treatment plants.

Regional council floats its bid for a cheaper future

FLOATING solar panels could help Isaac Regional Council offset the cost of running the region's water treatment plants in the future.

The council will investigate the feasibility of floating solar arrays at its water treatment plants to help offset the cost of powering water infrastructure.

It cost the council more than $1.4m in 2017-18 to power the Isaac region's network of water treatment plants, pumping stations and associated water infrastructure, and it's hoped this potential project could help offset the costs.

Mayor Anne Baker said the council continued to to make a clear case for a balanced and responsible approach to the current and future energy mix.

"Investigating the potential application of innovative renewable technology and the benefits this may yield is a part of that balanced and responsible approach," she said.

"Isaac is a region which is helping to energise the world through its rich resources and emerging renewables sector."

 

Lismore Community Solar - a project which includes the construction of Australia's largest floating solar farm - was launched this morning at East Lismore Sewage Treatment Plant.
The launch of Lismore Community Solar - a project which includes the construction of Australia's largest floating solar farm. Jasmine Burke

Cr Baker said there was potential to unlock savings for the council.

"Installing a floating array on the surface of a dam or reservoir not only removes the need to acquire land to build a solar farm, but also delivers other potential benefits," she said.

The council is taking a leaf out of the book of Lismore City Council on the North Coast of NSW, which recently installed a similar solar project.

The NSW council's solar panels are expected to offset the costs of running the water treatment plant by 12 per cent.

Ms Baker said covering at least part of the surface area of the raw water storage would also reduce the loss of water through evaporation, which represented a further saving.

The shade provided also reduced the potential for algal blooms in raw water storages, she said.

"Reducing energy costs and preventing evaporation represents a more sustainable approach to managing our water network," she said.

Cr Baker said Isaac region was already leading the way in the renewables sector, with seven solar farms approved, a further two under construction, and approval for one of Australia's largest wind farms.

"Technological advances are providing councils with the tools to reduce costs and provide better products to customers," she said.

"For us it is about leveraging innovative applications of renewables to deliver benefits to our ratepayers and residents."