Cool energy savings flow

Article image - Cool energy savings flow The new ‘green’ water cooling facility at Thargomindah.

Continuing its commitment to being a ‘green’ council, Bulloo Shire, Queensland, has made significant investments in renewable energy, including a new Water Cooling Project set to deliver long-term financial and social benefits while reducing risk to Council and the community.

Last year, Council worked with Peak Services to install solar across 23 Council facilities to reduce, and in most cases completely end, reliance on grid power during the daytime.  

Like many regional and remote councils, communities in Bulloo Shire rely on bore water.

While the water quality is potable, it comes out of the ground at more than 70 degrees Celsius, which without treatment puts the supply well beyond an ‘acceptable level of service’.  

For many years, Council struggled through the heat of outback summers, to reduce the water temperature, relying on a system of cooling towers and ponds to reach still unsatisfactory temperatures of around 55 degrees Celsius.

This cooling process cost Council more than $70,000 each year in electricity alone and, with much of the infrastructure nearing the end of its useful life, mounting maintenance and renewal costs necessitated the fast-tracking of a better solution.

The new water cooling system uses reliable technology in an innovative way, without compromising on maintenance and operational ease.

The system cools the bore water via plate heat exchangers that are coupled with cooling towers to bring the water temperature down from 72 to 35 degrees Celsius.

The entire cooling and delivery system is powered by solar with battery storage to minimize grid reliance. This is particularly important in remote communities where grid energy supply can be lost.

The savings for Council are significant. With combined annual electricity savings across the 23 facilities expected to surpass $160,000, the Water Cooling Project alone will save Council $79,000 per annum.

These works were made possible through a 60 percent contribution from the Queensland Government of $3.66 million from the 2017-19 Local Government Grants and Subsidies Program.

The initiative recently won the 2021 Sustainability category at the Queensland Local Government Managers Association (LGMA) Awards for Excellence.