The University of the Sunshine Coast is preparing to switch on an unconventional new system that will slash 40 percent of grid energy use at its largest campus.
The thermal energy storage tank at USC’s campus at Sippy Downs – designed and built in partnership with Veolia and dubbed ‘water battery’ – will be the first of its kind at an Australian university.
In contrast to traditional solar and battery systems, the system consists of a three-storey tank of water that will be cooled by a complex thermal process powered by more than 6,000 solar panels installed across the main campus.
The cooled water will be stored and used for air conditioning, which is currently the single biggest user of electricity at the campus in Queensland, Australia.
USC Vice-Chancellor Professor Greg Hill said the system’s launch was a significant milestone in the university’s bid to become carbon neutral by 2025.
“Air conditioning accounts for 40 percent of our daily energy usage, so by eliminating this we are taking a major step towards our carbon neutral goal,” Professor Hill said.
“For a regional university to be leading the way on this is proof that we don’t need to be in the big cities to be taking big strides in new ideas in renewables, and for us that’s very exciting.
“This technology has the potential to change the way energy is stored at scale and indeed we are hoping other organisations take inspiration and indeed copy us. The team behind this are already sharing the technology with schools, universities and companies around the world.
“At the same time, USC is using the technology to teach the student engineers, designers and leaders of the future, while staff and students are able to track our energy savings through real-time monitoring across the campus.”
The system is expected to save more than 92 thousand tonnes of CO2 emissions over 25 years, equivalent to the carbon emissions of 525 average Australian houses for the same period. It will lead to an estimated $100 million saving over the 25-year life of the project.
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.
Danny Conlon, CEO and Managing Director for Veolia Australia and New Zealand said, "We’ve enjoyed working with USC on such a unique and complex project. By working closely with the University, we’ve delivered a solution that makes them a leader in sustainable energy management in Australia. We're delighted about the environmental and financial benefits this will bring them."
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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 4000 employees and operates across more than 240 locations within the region.
Veolia group is the global leader in optimized resource management. With over 171,000 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 2018, the Veolia group supplied 95 million people with drinking water and 63 million people with wastewater service, produced nearly 56 million megawatt hours of energy and converted 49 million metric tons of waste into new materials and energy. Veolia Environnement (listed on Paris Euronext: VIE) recorded consolidated revenue of €25.91 billion in 2018 (USD 30.6 billion). www.veolia.com
Emily Agostino, Veolia ANZ
T: +61 409 887 017
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