SA Water has commenced installations of around 30,000 solar panels at Happy Valley Reservoir, fulfilling part of its Zero Cost Energy Future project and creating almost 50 jobs.

Happy Valley is one of 33 SA Water sites across the state where 500,000 solar panels will be installed to produce a total of 242 gigawatt hours of electricity per year.

The ground-mounted solar panels will be installed at the northern section of Happy Valley Reservoir Reserve, at the corner of Black and South Road.

South Australian Minister for Environment and Water, David Speirs, said early site preparation, including the planting of native vegetation along South Road, was recently completed, with the works to install the solar panels commencing.

“The Zero Cost Energy Future project is an ambitious project for SA Water to use renewable energy to reduce its largest operational expense – electricity,” Mr Speirs said.

“In exciting news for southern suburb communities, Happy Valley is one of the reservoirs across South Australia which we will be opening up for recreational access such as kayaking and fishing by the end of 2021.

“The solar panel installation at Happy Valley Reservoir is just one of 33 sites across the site which will be part of the Zero Cost Energy Future project.

“SA Water made sure to engage with local residents throughout the design process who wanted to make sure the visual amenity of the area was maintained.

“The solar array was reconfigured to fit in a smaller area and a 40m buffer of pine trees was retained between the panels and nearby Black Road, following ForestrySA’s recent harvesting of 13 hectares of its commercial Aleppo pine plantation within the reservoir reserve.

“This is a fantastic result which still enables SA Water to achieve its energy management target as well as preserve and enhance the surrounding natural environment.”

Member for Davenport, Steve Murray, said the local community played a key role in the final design of the solar panel project.

“Happy Valley Reservoir will become a popular visitor destination in the coming years and it is important we maintain the natural appearance,” Mr Murray said.

“The native vegetation recently planted within the reservoir reserve along South Road – and the 20m width of native grass, shrub seeds and tubestocks which will be planted during Spring/Summer along Black Road – will to help screen the solar panels, as well as provide wind protection and support local wildlife and ongoing biodiversity.”

The site preparation works will also involve trenching to accommodate underground electrical cabling and establishing internal access tracks. 

The installation of solar panels will follow, with additional electrical infrastructure and fence installation rounding out the project.

All works are expected to take around six months to complete, with construction scheduled between 7am and 7pm from Monday to Saturday.

“Together with South Australian contractor Enerven, SA Water will minimise potential construction impacts,” Mr Speirs said.

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