Solar powers Sand Bypass System, improves energy efficiency

The Spit, Gold Coast
The sand pumping jetty at The Spit, Gold Coast

A solar power pilot project at The Spit is starting to pay dividends by improving energy efficiency and reducing the carbon footprint of the Sand Bypass System.

Transport and Main Roads Minister Mark Bailey yesterday inspected progress on the pilot, which is using smart phone technology to track generation and emissions savings.

The Sand Bypass System is a critical component of the Gold Coast’s waterways network, but it consumes a large amount of power to pump sand under the Seaway to keep the waterways safe and navigable.

“The solar array has only been working for a couple of months, but an app linked to the system shows it’s already reduced carbon emissions by over 11 tonnes, which is the equivalent of planting almost 40 trees,” Mr Bailey said.

“This pilot not only helps us to reduce the System’s carbon footprint, it also aligns with the our vision for growing a green peninsula under the Master Plan for The Spit.

Related article: Big box retailers hope to negotiate for cheaper power prices

“It’s part of our $20 million commitment to Gold Coast waterways announced in this year’s budget, supporting local businesses and jobs.”

Gold Coast Waterways Authority (GCWA) CEO Hal Morris said the 100-kilowatt solar photovoltaic array is generating over 600 kilowatt hours of electricity each day which is helping meet the day-time energy needs of the System.

“We’re using the app to better understand the System’s energy profile and adjusting operations to make the most of the solar energy being generated,” Mr Morris said.

“One of the changes we’ve made is to run the air compressor, which is one of our biggest users of power during the day to coincide with peak solar generating times. We use the air compressor for our tools and for backflushing the Sand Bypass System’s jet pumps.”

Mr Bailey said the project was also a coup for the local economy, with the contract to design, install and maintain the pilot solar system awarded to a local company, SAE Group.

SAE Group senior project manager Derek Butterworth said a team of 20 people was employed on the project.

“These are all locally based experts including engineers, designers, installers and people undertaking servicing and monitoring,” Mr Butterworth said.

“Since the system started operating it’s generated about 30 megawatt hours of electricity in total.”

Related article: Leveraging the DER opportunity

The GCWA will use the pilot to improve understanding of the solar output potential of the area, the impact of the coastal environment on solar systems and the Sand Bypass System’s energy load profile.

This information will help GCWA decide if the solar system can be expanded to further reduce operating costs and the Sand Bypass System’s carbon footprint in future.

The Palaszczuk Government has invested $350,000 in the pilot project.

A 100-kilowatt system is sufficient to power about 12 homes.

The Sand Bypass System transports over 500,000 cubic metres of sand from The Spit to South Stradbroke Island each year, helping to keep the Gold Coast Seaway safe and navigable for recreational and commercial vessels.

Previous articleBig box retailers hope to negotiate for cheaper power prices
Next articleLocation data business PSMA rebranded as Geoscape