We’re building solar farms at our treatment plants, powering our operations with renewable energy. Better for Melbourne and our planet.
It takes a lot of energy to transfer and treat sewage from across Greater Melbourne. In fact, Melbourne Water is among the top 15 energy users in Victoria – and electricity is our third-largest single operational expense.
But our energy use doesn’t just impact our costs. Electricity generated from fossil fuels also indirectly contributes to our greenhouse gas emissions.
That’s why we’ve pledged to source 100% of our electricity from renewables by 2025. It’s part of our commitment to halve our emissions by 2025, and reduce them to net zero by 2030.
How solar panels work
Solar panels contain photovoltaic cells, placed between two layers of semiconducting material: one positively charged, and one negatively charged. These release electrons when hit with the photons from sunlight, creating an electric field.
Our solar farms use ‘bifacial’ panels that can generate energy from both sides. The panels are attached to a rotating bar that uses sensors to follow the sun, maximising energy production all year round.
Our solar projects
A small-scale solar array was built at our Somerton Water Pump Station in 2022. We've also built two larger solar farms at our water and sewage treatment plants: an important step forwards in transitioning our operations to renewable energy.
Winneke Solar Farm
Our new Winneke Solar Farm helps power the Winneke Water Treatment Plant, which treats water from Sugarloaf Reservoir nearby. Depending on the weather and other factors, it can provide up to 100% of the plant’s daily energy needs – and more. Any excess is fed back to the electricity grid to offset usage at our other sites.
A walking track surrounds the solar farm, allowing the public to see it in action.
- Number of panels: 19,000 (over 10 hectares)
- Power production: 12,400 megawatt hours per year
- Emissions reduction: 12,000 tonnes of carbon per year (equal to the amount generated by 2500 households)
In an Australian first, we used terrain tracking sensors to build the farm on the area’s sloping hills. This helped us install the panels with only minimal disturbances to the soil, protecting water quality in the reservoir.
Eastern Treatment Plant Solar Farm
Our solar farm at the Eastern Treatment Plant is set to become one of Australia’s largest ‘behind-the-meter’ solar installations. This means all the energy produced will go towards powering the plant, which treats about 40% of Melbourne’s sewage.
The plant already meets about 30% of its electricity needs from biogas captured on site. Once complete, the solar farm will supply another 20%, increasing on-site generation from renewable sources to over 50%.
- Number of panels: 39,000
- Power production: 30 gigawatt hours per year
- Emissions reduction: 28,800 tonnes of carbon per year (equal to the amount generated by 6,000 households)