Scouts set to go solar thanks to donation

Wannon Water Board members, employees and south-west Scouts check out the new solar panels on the roof of the Gateway Road building.
Wannon Water Board members, employees and south-west Scouts check out the new solar panels on the roof of the Gateway Road building.

The environment is not the only winner after a major upgrade to the solar panel system on Wannon Water’s Gateway Road offices in Warrnambool.

Wannon Water has installed a new 99.7 kilowatt system on the roof, which is 39 times the capacity of the previous system. It is believed to be the largest single solar PV array in south-west Victoria.

Wannon Water chair Jacinta Ermacora said the old system, installed in 2010, has been removed and would be donated to the South West District Scouts.

“Wannon Water will pay the cost of installing it at the Brucknell Scout Camp where it will reduce power costs for the volunteer organisation and provide benefits for the groups who utilise the facility,” she said.

“The project complements our vision of going ‘beyond water for strong communities’. It is an excellent example of how innovative thinking can deliver multiple benefits for our customers, the environment and the communities we serve.”

South West District Scouts Commissioner James Smith thanked Wannon Water for the donation.

“Scouts value the importance of mutual support and help between members of a community to maximise the quality of life for all. This project, instigated by Wannon Water, is a perfect example of that,” Mr Smith said.

“The installation of solar panels at Brucknell will help us to minimise our ongoing costs at an important community facility and allow us to take positive steps to benefit our environment.”

Wannon Water’s project manager energy efficiency Murray Dancey said the new solar panel system, which came at a net cost of $120,000, would pay for itself in six to seven years through reduced energy usage.

Contractors installed more than 300 high-efficiency solar PV panels on the building and connected them to the power system last month with sensors providing data to assist with automatic management.

“Overall the new system will reduce the building’s grid-energy-demand by 26 per cent and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 136,000 kilograms each year,” Mr Dancey said.  “On sunny days, the building can be 100 per cent powered by renewable energy, with any excess being exported to neighbouring properties via a grid connection.”

Mr Dancey said the average renewable annual energy output would be more than 125,000 kilowatt hours, which is equivalent to providing clean energy for 22 average homes.

“The project is part of Wannon Water’s pledge to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050, with an interim target of a 40 per cent reduction by 2025,” he said.