USC’s ‘water battery’ wins global award

USC
USC's 'water battery'

A system that uses solar energy to provide air conditioning across an entire campus of the University of the Sunshine Coast has claimed a rather cool international award in Iceland.

USC and resource management company Veolia won the Out of the Box category of the Global District Energy Climate Awards on Friday for their ‘water battery’, featuring 6000 solar panels and a thermal energy storage tank, that is cutting grid energy use at the Sunshine Coast campus by 40 per cent.

USC won alongside projects from Spain, Lithuania, Sweden. The award was received in Iceland by USC Manager Infrastructure and Energy Dennis Frost, who was also named Practitioner of the Year at the Tertiary Education Facilities Management Association Clever Campus Awards.

USC Chief Operating Officer Dr Scott Snyder said the award recognised the ingenuity of the project partners in developing the system, which is the first of its kind for an Australian university.

“USC has a plan to be completely carbon neutral by 2025, which is a challenge to any budget because it requires significant changes to the way energy is captured and consumed,” Dr Snyder said.

“So, we really did have to think out of the box, and by forming a partnership with Veolia, we were able to negotiate a 10-year plan that suited us both and delivered major energy savings to the University.

“The system was switched on in September and is now delivering 2.1 megawatts of power and we estimate that we will save more than $100 million in energy costs over the next 25 years.

“Another benefit is that we are able to take our students to visit the system and teach them about innovation and finding cleaner energy solutions for the future.”

Veolia regional energy services manager Andrew Darr said the win reflected nearly four years of hard work, and a successful ongoing partnership with USC.

“The innovation displayed throughout this project is a testament to both organisations and could only be achieved through an open and collaborative partnership” he said.