Vector and Watercare to build New Zealand’s first floating solar array

New Zealand’s electricity  utility Vector Ltd and water utility Watercare Services Limited, announced  a project to build New Zealand’s largest solar array by floating it on Watercare’s Rosedale Wastewater Treatment Plant on Auckland’s North Shore.

The project is funded and hosted by Watercare and delivered by Vector’s commercial solar business PowerSmart. It is the first floating solar project confirmed for deployment in New Zealand, as well as the lasgest since it is more than twice the size of the country’s current largest solar array.

It will  generate enough electricity to power 200 average NZ homes for a year and  it will help redudce 145 tonnes of CO2e each year, equivalent to the emissions from driving 66 cars in NZ.

The array will be used to supplement electricity from the grid as well as cogeneration from biogas, which is already generated on-site from wastewater treatment. The electricity is used for pumping and aeration for natural bacteria that help break down the waste as part of the treatment process.

Vector Group CEO Simon Mackenzie and Watercare chief executive Raveen Jaduram said the system, delivered by Vector PowerSmart, would mark a number of firsts for New Zealand.

Watercare has an ambitious programme to reduce its energy use by 8GWh by 2022 and to achieve energy self-sufficiency at its Mangere and Rosedale wastewater treatment plants by 2025. Solar installations such as this one will help Watercare achieve its targets.

Vector Group CEO Simon Mackenzie said:

“It’s the first time floating solar will be seen in New Zealand and the first megawatt-scale solar project to be confirmed. It can generate enough power over a year to run the equivalent of 200 average New Zealand homes for a year. Even larger systems are already common overseas and with reports out of Australia of costs as low as 4-5c per kWh, when that scale arrives here we’ll see solar’s real potential to set a new cap on the wholesale market which over the past few days has been around double that. 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”.

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”.

Source: Press Release by Vector Ltd. Photo credit: © Vector Ltd. Artist impression of Rosedale Waste Water Treatment Plant Floating Solar.