Our Journey As EPC of Australia’s Largest Floating Solar Farm (& CEC Award Winner!)

21 December 2023, Solar case study

Greenwood loves a challenge. The more ambitious, the more rewarding! And, in our seven years as a renewables EPC, few have rivalled this 350kW+FPV solar system. Installed on a wastewater facility with (look, Mum!) no hands.

This case study brings to life Greenwood's role as EPC for a Gippsland Water project. For which we were incredibly humbled to receive peer and industry recognition at the 2023 All Energy Conference as “Winner of the 2023 Clean Energy Council (CEC) Solar Design and Installation Award” (Commercial projects over 100kW). Through interactive storytelling, you'll get insight into the design, engineering, installation and deployment phases.

We hope you enjoy it!

Our client - Gippsland Water - was faced with an energy security issue at one of their facilities. They needed an outcome - one that wouldn't compromise their emissions targets. Renewables was the answer. Though traditional solar PV systems were not feasible due to a lack of rooftop space and open ground.

So began Greenwood’s journey of architecting a 350kW+ floating solar farm and installing it atop the clients’ wastewater facility. Without ever touching the water!

“Greenwood Solutions' triumphant realisation of a 350kW+ floating solar array for a wastewater treatment plant exemplified their mastery in solar PV system design, engineering and implementation“

- Clean Energy Council (CEC)

From design to install, this project demanded creative and strategic thinking. As always, Greenwood's motley crew were up for the challenge. Pushing together - with a little help from 200-tonne cranes - to achieve the highest performing outcome. 

The list of challenges was long. So here's a highlight's reel of hurdles we vaulted:

  • Engineering a floating platform for the ~650 solar panels and transitioning the cables from the array to land. This required an in-depth understanding of buoyancy dynamics, fluid mechanics, and structural integrity;
  • Undergoing comprehensive civil works that included land reclamation and the application of specialised construction techniques;
  • Conducting bathymetry tests to ascertain the depth of the wastewater lagoon. Crucial to accurately position the floating infrastructure. And last (but not least);
  • Safety. As always, ensuring the safety of our employees and all on-site, was Greenwood's primary concern. Given the health and safety risks posed by the wastewater, we were unable to physically make contact with the surface at any time. Imagine how tricky that was!

Greenwood's FPV system - still Australia’s largest floating solar farm at time of writing - nailed the client's objectives.

Designed to generate more than 12,800 MWh over 30 years, Gippsland Water can have confidence in their energy security. Simultaneously helping the organisation hit their sustainability commitments, offsetting up to 2,600 tonnes of CO2-e gas emissions. Or, for those of us who aren't walking emissions calculators, the equivalent of harmful gasses from 560 cars!

To wrap it up - yes, we're wrapping it up - our design delivered maximum performance with minimal impact on its surrounds. Achieved by the solar panels' proximity to the water's surface in order to reduce evaporation rates; and by harnessing the water’s temperature and reflection to deliver the highest yield from the PV system. A testament to Greenwood’s holistic approach as EPC of genuinely sustainable systems.

With a happy client, CEC award and many challenges overcome, it’s no surprise that Greenwood’s crew did - and still do - crack a well-earned smile.

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