We have entered the solar energy market and installed our first solar array at the Pukekohe Wastewater Treatment Plant.
The 122kW ground-mounted array consists of 400 solar panels and is the first renewable energy project of its kind that we have completed. The panels help power a pump station, which sends wastewater piped from surrounding districts to the treatment plant, located approximately 1km away.
A commemoration plaque was unveiled by Auckland Mayor Phil Goff, Watercare chief executive Raveen Jaduram and Mercury chief executive Fraser Whineray at an official ceremony on Friday 17 May.
Jaduram told assembled guests that two other solar energy projects are being installed and are due to be up and running later this year: “Watercare’s business is intrinsically linked to the natural environment. Integrating sustainability into everything we do is key to our role as a trusted community and iwi partner.
“Watercare is committed to operating in a sustainable way. It’s at the heart of what we do and our first foray into solar energy is an exciting landmark.”
The panels were provided by Mercury Solar and can generate about 170 megawatt hours of energy per year, saving up to $20,000 annually.
Two other solar arrays are currently being installed at Wellsford Wastewater Treatment Plant and Redoubt Rd Reservoir, Manukau. All three projects are on track to be operating later this year. The Redoubt Rd reservoir project will also feature a Tesla Powerpack, so that the solar electricity can be stored for use at night-time and is expected to see a 75 per cent reduction in grid use.
Last month, we launched our climate strategy. The strategy has two broad focuses: becoming a low-carbon organisation, and adapting the organisation to be resilient in a changing climate.
The solar power project is just one initiative. Others include a native revegetation programme in the Hunua Ranges (140,000 native trees planted so far); conversion of 30 per cent of pool fleet cars to electric vehicles; and a commitment to energy neutrality at two major wastewater treatment plants through energy generation from biogas.
Long-term, we are aiming for NetZero emissions by 2050, aims to reduce operational greenhouse gas emissions by 45 per cent by the year 2030 and reduce infrastructure construction emissions by 40 per cent by the year 2025.