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Giant “water battery” and solar planned for USC

The University of the Sunshine Coast (USC) plans to be carbon neutral by 2025, and will use a giant “water battery” run by solar panels to achieve its goal.

Project partner Veolia will build, install and operate 5,800 rooftop solar panels and a 4.5 megalitre water storage tank at USC’s main campus at Sippy Downs to cool water for air conditioning.

It is expected to save more than 92,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions over 25 years – equivalent to the carbon emissions of 525 average Australian houses for the same period.

“The tank is essentially a giant water battery,” said Vice-Chancellor Professor Greg Hill. “Sixty percent of our energy is used for chilling water for air conditioning, so our asset management services team and Veolia have come up with a way we can harness solar energy for cooling water and storing it.”

The 2.1 megawatt photovoltaic system, with panels spread across campus rooftops and carpark structures, will produce enough energy to cool 4.5 megalitres of water. This will effectively act as a seven-megawatt battery.

“This will reduce the campus’s grid electricity use by 36 per cent and will lead to an estimated $100 million saving over the 25-year life of the project,” Professor Hill said.

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