At the Year in Infrastructure conference in London SA Water is one of the finalists for the annual Be Inspired Innovation in Roads Awards. Today Rowan Steele presented an overview of how SA Water, based in Adelaide, South Australia, has applied operation analytics to reduce the water utility's power bill by A$3 million.
About 40% of the South Australian power generation is now renewable. Most of this is wind (33%) and solar (8%). Fluctuating sources of power generation means that the price of electricity can range widely from -A$1000 to A$13,000 per megawatt hour (Mwh).
The drought, the new desalinization plant and the fluctuating cost of power introduced complexity into managing what used to be a fairly simple water network.
To address these issues SA Water decided to invest significantly in IT to help manage the water network better. They acquired a hydraulic model that allowed them to simulate the network under different conditions. They also invested in an operational analytics tool.
Together these applications have helped them optimize their network in various ways, such as optimizing chlorine dosing (water from the desal plant has very little organics compared to river water), minimizing electric power costs and reducing water age in some parts of the network. The benefits have been significant. They not only have been able to reduce their power bill by A$3 million, but also have cut their network operating costs by nearly a A$ million. It has also resulted in improved water quality. For example, they can map water age geographically for their entire service area. More fundamentally it has given them much greater insight into sources of revenue and the costs of various aspects of operating a water network.