Cleanaway harnesses sun

Cleanaway solar

Waste management company Cleanaway is investing almost $5 million in solar energy systems across Australia to reduce its electricity demand from the grid and its annual power bill.

The company is installing 2.4 megawatts (MW) of photovoltaic (PV) panels, capable of generating about 3.6 gigawatt hours (GWh) of electricity each year – enough to power 547 Australian homes.

Brendan Gill, Chief Operating Officer, said Cleanaway would have solar generation across 23 sites spanning all states when the three-phase program was completed this calendar year. This includes a 600 kilowatt (KW) array of panels at the new Perth Material Recovery Facility (MRF), which reopened in May, along with oil refineries, liquids waste facilities, and other MRFs.

Gill said Cleanaway expected the installation of solar panels to reduce the company’s annual electricity bill from these facilities by about 17 per cent, or more than $500,000 a year, and annual electricity usage from the grid from these facilities by about 20 per cent.

“It makes economic sense to reduce our exposure to volatile electricity prices by generating our own power. In choosing which of our 250-plus sites were to be powered by the sun, we prioritised those that were likely to provide the fastest payback of our investment, but also considered factors such as roof size, angle, pitch and age, and operational hours,” Gill said.

“About 1.6 MW of panels are already in place and the remaining 0.8 MW will be being installed by the end of this year.”

In 2020, Cleanaway published its first Sustainability Report, naming seven priority Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that the company felt it could have the greatest impact on through its operations.

The solar program contributes to four of the SDGs: Affordable and clean energy, sustainable cities and communities, responsible consumption and production, and  Climate Action.

“Given the scale of our operations we’re aware that we can make an impact with improvements like this. The program is another example of how we’re working towards our mission to make a sustainable future possible for generations to come,” Gill said.

The project draws on a $90 million Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC) corporate loan designed to accelerate sustainable practices in the waste management sector.

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