Solar power pilot improves sand bypass pumping system

the spit qld

A new solar power pilot project is helping improve energy efficiency and reduce emissions for the Gold Coast’s Sand Bypass System.

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.

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

The 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 our vision for growing a green peninsula under the Master Plan for The Spit.

“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 100kW solar photovoltaic array is generating over 600kWH of electricity each day which is helping meet the daytime 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 were 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 30MWh of electricity in total.”

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 the future.

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

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