Harnessing the power of hydroelectricity to generate renewable energy.
Project implemented: 2008 to 2017
Generate renewable energy through the water supply network to reduce the net electricity costs associated with MW operations.
The project will prevent 75,800 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions from entering the atmosphere, equivalent to taking more than 29,200 cars off the road.
Sites were identified and ranked on power generation, annual generation, capacity, economics and risk.
Planned the project in three stages
Delivered the project in three stages with lessons learnt incorpated into each subsequent stage.
The Project has been well-received by the community which is demonstrated through the positive feedback received. "An A for ingenuity What a brilliant idea – put mini-generators in the pipelines delivering water to houses throughout Melbourne (“Powering along with green energy”, 29/6). Simple. Cost effective and carbon neutral. Ten out of ten for Melbourne Water for an initiative which easily be spread through Melbourne, obviating the need for dirty carbon" (Roy Hayton, Beaumaris, The Age Letter to the Editor)
Over the last 10 years, Melbourne Water has installed 12 new hydroelectricity plants to generate renewable electricity. The plants use excess pressure inherent in Melbourne Water’s water supply system to generate renewable electricity – harnessing a natural, sustainable and reliable source of energy, rather than letting this energy go to waste. In 3 of the last 5 years, Melbourne Water’s water supply network generated more electricity than it used. This is due to the hydroelectricity generation of 69,500 megawatt hours each year or enough power for more than 14,100 homes.
Melbourne Water uses a large amount of energy (almost 2 million gigajoules) to deliver safe water, remove and treat sewage, and manage drainage and waterways across Melbourne. Melbourne Water’s vision is ‘enhancing life and liveability’ and the aim is to create a sustainable region through innovative resource recovery and reducing our emissions.
In 2004, Melbourne Water reviewed its water supply network and identified sites that had potential for hydroelectric generation (mini-hydros). These sites were assessed and ranked on their ability to generate electricity, availability of the local electricity network to accept the generated power, their economics and the risk associated with their operation. The sites were grouped into Stage one (larger capacity > 400 kW) and Stage two (smaller capacity < 400 kW).
The project objectives were:
Stage one sites (7 mini-hydros) were constructed between 2007 and 2011 and Stage two sites (5 minihydros) between 2015 and 2017.
Melbourne Water faced a number of challenges during the design and delivery of Stage 1 and Stage 2. These challenges were overcome by applying Melbourne Water’s principle of continuous improvement which has resulted in improved efficiency, reliability and maintenance processes.
Generation from the plants and associated revenue from electricity generation and renewable energy certificates, now helps reduce Melbourne Water’s operating costs, delivering greater customer affordability.
Following completion of Stages 1 and 2, Melbourne Water can now generate up to 69,500 megawatt hours of hydroelectricity each year. This prevents over 75,800 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions, equivalent to taking more than 29,200 cars off the road.
Melbourne Water is currently working on the feasibility study for 11 additional mini-hydro plants using the learnings and continuous improvement processes following the completion of the Stage 2 plants in 2017.