New Zealand electricity and water providers Vector Group and Watercare are collaborating to deploy the country’s largest solar array which will float on top of a wastewater treatment pond. It will be used to supplement electricity from the grid, as well as co-generation from biogas, which is already generated on-site from wastewater treatment.
“It’s the first time floating solar will be seen in New Zealand and the first megawatt-scale solar project to be confirmed,” said Vector Group CEO, Simon Mackenzie. “It can generate enough power over a year to run the equivalent of 200 average New Zealand homes for a year. Vector PowerSmart’s capability to design and deliver this innovative system shows how new energy solutions are key to helping business reach their economic and environmental goals, and we’re proud to be working with Watercare to help it achieve both.”
The system will be comprised of more than 2700 solar panels and 3000 floating pontoons and is expected to reduce 145 tonnes of CO2 each year – equivalent to the emissions from driving 66 cars in New Zealand. Watercare has a program to reduce its energy use by 8 GWh by 2022 and to achieve energy self-sufficiency at two of its wastewater treatment plants by 2025.
Watercare chief executive Raveen Jaduram said, “The project is a fantastic example of how utilities can work together for the benefit of their communities. As a large user of energy, it’s important that we look at ways of reducing our environmental footprint and becoming more self-sufficient. Innovative solutions like this on top of wastewater ponds are a smart way to reduce operational costs.”