The Unitywater 2020-2027 Energy Management Plan will aim to save the equivalent of $2.5 million per annum in energy costs, consumption and emissions by 2027, helping to keep customer bills as low as possible. 

The three-part strategy will focus on initiatives to buy less energy, consume less energy and pay less for grid energy, to counter increasing demand on sewer and water networks, with the population of the Sunshine Coast and Moreton Bay set to grow by more than 250,000 to 1.046 million by 2031.

With sewage treatment plants (STPs) accounting for nearly half of all energy spend, opportunities to generate energy behind the meter will be a key focus of the plan, which includes:

  • Generating energy behind the meter by building on success of a Cogeneration Plant at Kawana STP (energy reduced by 32%) and a Solar Plant at Kenilworth STP (energy neutral). Unitywater is investigating the feasibility of further cogeneration plants at Maroochydore and Redcliffe and looking for opportunities to incorporate more solar generation sites into its network.
  • Energy efficiency improvements using data visualisation tools to understand and manage energy consumption and drive behaviour change. Multiple small actions by individuals across STPs are forecast to deliver a 2-5% total energy consumption reduction.
  • Maintaining and improving business as usual projects including a plan to improve aeration and reduce infiltration by using new technology that will identify sources of inflow and leaks in the sewer network
  • Procurement optimisation including targeting more favourable energy pricing and increasing green energy

Unitywater CEO George Theo said the plan would allow the utility to pass on savings to customers. 

“Our energy management plan is good news for the environment and for our customers,” he said.

“A growing population comes with increased infrastructure, energy costs and consumption to continue to provide essential services to the community and we are planning to meet the future needs of the region in an economically and environmentally sustainable way.

“By using innovative technologies such as biosolid energy generation at our sewage treatment plants, alongside smart energy efficiency initiatives, we’ll be able to not only reduce our reliance on fossil fuels, but save $2.5m in costs and keep customer bills as low as possible.

“Energy spend is critical to keeping costs down for our customers and ensures better and more environmentally sustainable outcomes for the community in which we operate and live.”

Image: The installation of solar panels at Kenilworth STP has made it energy neutral.