Three-Story Water Battery Will Save University $100 Million In Energy Costs

A university in Queensland, Australia, is trying an experimental three-story water battery to save on the cost of energy while also allowing it to become carbon neutral by as soon as 2025, EcoWatch reports:

“The University of the Sunshine Coast … got a boon from the success of the experimental battery, which was turned on in September and now generates enough power to power the campus’ air conditioning system, reducing dependence on the grid by 40 percent.”

The water battery works in conjunction with solar power. Some 6,000 solar panels line the rooftops of buildings on the campus. The power from those is used to cool water. That water is then converted to usage by the school’s air conditioning system. And that, in turn, is expected to save the university at least $100 million in electricity costs over the next 25 years, according to the Sydney Morning Herald. It will also prevent the release of some 100,000 tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) from being released into the atmosphere, making it a win-win proposition from both a financial and environmental standpoint.


French resource management company Veolia is partnering with the university on the project and engineered the massive water battery by taking full advantage of the sunshine available in the region while simultaneously reducing the school’s reliance on the existing energy grid.


University Chief Operating Officer Scott Snyde noted in a press release:

“The University of the Sunshine Coast has a plan to be completely carbon neutral by 2025, which is a challenge to any budget because it requires significant changes to the way energy is captured and consumed. So, we really did have to think out of the box, and by forming a partnership with Veolia, we were able to negotiate a 10-year plan that suited us both and delivered major energy savings to the University.”

By switching to the solar-powered water battery, the university is already reducing its carbon footprint by 42 percent, and that percentage will grow in the coming years.


Dennis Frost, the university’s infrastructure and energy manager, said the success of the project is proof that there are indeed solutions to the problems that plague the world:

“Universities have a very large energy footprint and we wanted to tackle that and reduce that expense. I think it is exciting because we have the opportunity to teach the younger generation that the environmental challenges that are faced by the planet can be solved.”

Queensland is quickly becoming a showcase for energy-efficient investments. Production and use of solar energy has grown steadily in recent months, and Queensland Energy Minister Anthony Lynham announced in October that solar panels in the area now produce twice as much energy as the state’s largest power station:

“Queensland has 30 solar farms. Their power coupled with solar panels on homes and businesses produced 4,000 megawatts of power. By contrast, the region’s largest power plant produced 1,680 megawatts of power.”

The water battery project has been so successful that it was recently awarded the Out of the Box category of the Global District Energy Climate Awards, where it was judged against competing entries from Spain, Lithuania, Sweden.



Featured Image Via University of the Sunshine Coast

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Andrew Bradford

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