New Zealand’s largest— and only floating – solar array is being officially opened at Rosedale Wastewater Treatment Plant, Albany.
The landmark system signals an important milestone for solar in New Zealand. The one-megawatt array covers one hectare and consists of more than 2700 solar panels and 4000 floating pontoons. It floats on a treated wastewater pond next to the Northern motorway and will generate 1,486MWh per year. This is enough electricity to power a quarter of the total energy needed at the treatment plant.
Auckland Mayor Phil Goff says it’s exciting to see the first megawatt-scale system up and running:
“Large solar installations like this are common overseas, and it’s good to see we are now making use of the technology in New Zealand.
“The one-hectare array will reduce carbon emissions by 145tonnes each year, helping us achieve our climate change goals and making our city cleaner and more sustainable. It will generate enough power to run the equivalent of 200 average New Zealand homes for a year.”
The array was built by Vector Powersmart over four months. First, 65 concrete ballast anchors, weighing 2.5tonnes each were lowered into the pond before the solar panels were floated into place.
Watercare chief executive Raveen Jaduram says the floating array is the latest in a series of five solar projects and will help Watercare to meet its cost savings and emissions-reductions targets: “Rosedale is one of the five most energy-efficient wastewater treatment plants in Australasia. Most of the wastewater is moved around the plant by gravity and almost all of the energy comes from biogas— a by-product of the wastewater treatment process.
“The array will contribute to our long-term goal of being energy neutral at the plant.”
General manager Vector Powersmart Rogier Simons says the completion of the array marked an important milestone for solar in New Zealand: “Given the drive to decarbonise and use cleaner forms of energy, this project is a significant milestone for New Zealand. It also demonstrates that solar solutions can be found even in challenging environments like wastewater treatment ponds.”
The electricity will be used for pumping and aeration for the natural bacteria that break down the waste as part of the treatment process.