Media
29 may 2018

Giant ‘water battery’ and solar planned for the University of the Sunshine Coast

The University of the Sunshine Coast is unveiling plans for a giant “water battery” run by solar panels in a bid to become carbon neutral by 2025.

Project partner Veolia will build, install and operate 5,800 rooftop solar panels and a 4.5 megalitre water storage tank at USC’s main campus at Sippy Downs to cool water for air conditioning.

It is expected to save more than 92 thousand tonnes of CO 2 emissions over 25 years, equivalent to the carbon emissions of 525 average Australian houses for the same period.

Veolia will build the panels and tank at no cost to the university, operate and maintain the infrastructure for 10 years, selling the energy generated back to the university at a rate cheaper than electricity from the grid. After this time, ownership of the infrastructure will transfer to USC.

Vice-Chancellor Professor Greg Hill said the project was a major step towards the university’s goal to become carbon neutral by 2025, and was expected to be operational by early 2019.

“The tank is essentially a giant water battery,” Professor Hill said.

“Sixty percent of our energy is used for chilling water for air conditioning, so our Asset Management Services team and Veolia have come up with a way we can harness solar energy for cooling water and storing it.

The 2.1 megawatt photovoltaic system, with panels spread across campus rooftops and carpark structures, will produce enough energy to cool 4.5 megalitres of water, effectively acting as a seven-megawatt battery.

“This will reduce the campus’s grid electricity use by 36 percent and will lead to an estimated $100 million saving over the 25-year life of the project,” Professor Hill said.

“We will use environmentally friendly refrigerant gas, and campus lake water for the air conditioning cooling towers, resulting in a saving of 802 megalitres of potable water.”

Also included in the project will be an automated system that will select and switch to the most appropriate energy source at any given time, whether that is stored chilled water, solar energy or electricity from the grid.

“On cloudy days when the solar isn’t operating at peak, the system will use grid electricity at night-time when electricity rates are lower,” Professor Hill said. 

“The system will react to changing conditions on campus and select the best source of energy to minimise energy use, carbon emissions and cost.”

Professor Hill said the project will be used to teach engineering and sustainability students.

“This is proof that we’re an innovative university leading the way on sustainability initiatives, and we’re using this newest technology to inform the engineers of the future.”

Grant Winn, Executive General Manager – Energy and Refractories, Veolia Australia and New Zealand, said: "Veolia is excited about working with USC on such an innovative sustainability project where we will help reduce the energy consumption and carbon emissions of the campus through sourcing renewable solar energy, whilst also reducing potable water usage."

USC is also developing plans for carbon saving measures at its other campuses across the region.

- ENDS - 

For all media enquiries contact:

Emily Agostino
Veolia ANZ
T: +61 409 887 017
E: emily.agostino@veolia.com
 

About Veolia Australia and New Zealand:
Veolia Australia and New Zealand (Veolia) is the region’s only environmental solutions organisation with specific capabilities across water and wastewater treatment, energy management, waste and resource recovery services, and industrial cleaning and facilities maintenance services. Veolia employs over 4000 employees and operates across more than 240 locations within the region. www.veolia.com/anz

About Veolia Global:
Veolia group is the global leader in optimized resource management. With nearly 169 000 employees worldwide, the Group designs and provides water, waste and energy management solutions which contribute to the sustainable development of communities and industries. Through its three complementary business activities, Veolia helps to develop access to resources, preserve available resources, and to replenish them.

In 2017, the Veolia group supplied 96 million people with drinking water and 62 million people with wastewater service, produced nearly 55 million megawatt hours of energy and converted 47 million metric tons of waste into new materials and energy. Veolia Environnement (listed on Paris Euronext: VIE) recorded consolidated revenue of €25.12 billion in 2017. www.veolia.com