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SAGE designed and engineered a bespoke control system that autonomously manages energy generation, conversion, and allocation for solar and grid-derived energy, connecting a range of new solar systems and maximising operational efficiency.



SAGE delivered a bespoke control system (Power Management System) that autonomously manages energy generation, conversion, and allocation for solar and grid-derived energy, connecting a range of new solar systems and maximising operational efficiency.


Stakeholder management | Site audit | Preliminary and detailed design |
Control panel and switchboard manufacture | Documentation | Validation testing
Live cutover | Project management | Behind the metre industrial solar system
Grid connection | AEMO integration | Battery storage


Adelaide, South Australia, Australia

Reuben Brown, Project Engineer - Control Systems, Enerven

“The SAGE team were instrumental in developing the scope of the project, defining the ZCEF phase 2 requirements quickly and effectively. SAGE’s strong pre-existing relationship with SA Water and understanding of its innovative and complex systems ensured a smooth integration of the solution, while their flexible manufacturing and site installation team methodically installed the sites to a consistent standard."


SA Water provides clean water and removes, treats, and recycles wastewater for more than 1.7 million customers across South Australia. The energy required to operate the existing water plants, infrastructure, and systems to deliver these services cost SA Water more than $80 million annually. 

Driven by energy market uncertainty and to achieve low and stable prices for its customers, SA Water committed to achieving sustainability by launching its Zero Cost Energy Future (ZCEF) project in 2018. The project strategy aims to enable SA Water to generate and export its sustainable energy supply to offset total electricity costs to a zero net outcome. 

Investing more than $300 million across seven initiatives to achieve a zero cost energy future, SA Water and EPC Contractor Enerven engaged SAGE to deliver control systems for the ZCEF Solar and Battery Infrastructure Project, delivered across two phases. 

Phase 1

Phase 1 involved the installation of 4.2MW of solar photovoltaic (PV) generation capacity across three of SA Water’s power-hungry, high-energy treatment facilities: Hope Valley Water Treatment Plant (WTP), Christies Beach Wastewater Treatment Plant (WWTP), and Glenelg WWTP.

In this phase of the project, SAGE designed and engineered the Energy Management System (EMS) and SCADA integration for more than 160 solar inverters and then engineered and built three containerised 'switch rooms' to house the solar inverters, power distribution switchboard, and the EMS.

Read more about phase 1 here.

Phase 2

Phase 2 of the project involved deploying and connecting more than 350,000 solar panels across 33 of SA Water’s existing sites, both in metropolitan and regional asset locations and the extensive programming and interfacing required to connect, control and monitor onsite generation assets.

SA Water's Christies Beach Plant was one of 20 locations with newly installed solar panels that required upgraded control systems during phase 2 of ZCEF. Image courtesy of Enerven.

The sites varied significantly in the infrastructure installed. Some sites had the generation installed behind the meter to the existing plant's connection to the electricity grid, and other sites were new grid connections. Across the different sites, there was a range of different capacities and technologies in place, and regional and metropolitan sites had different electricity network service providers. These differences required a Power Management System that is flexible enough to cover all scenarios.

SA Water required that a new communications solution be integrated as part of the Power Management System to enable complete visibility and enhanced monitoring and control of this range of new solar and battery systems, and the connection of these systems into their SCADA infrastructure for greater control of their existing remote assets.

To comply with SA Power Networks and the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) regulations, the Power Management System needed to track the energy inputs and outputs of all the assets at the site and continually control the generation outputs as site loads change to meet the grid connections requirements for the site.

Solar-Panels-Enerven-MannumNew solar panels at SA Water's Mannum Plant. Image courtesy of Enerven.

SA Water wanted a solution that would autonomously optimise energy generation, receiving bidding values from the National Energy Market (NEM), where time-dependent energy market bidding determines how and when generators are deployed to produce energy for the NEM, depending on market demand.

Solar installation company Enerven partnered with control and automation integrator SAGE Automation to provide a control and communications solution for the 20 largest sites.


SAGE designed and engineered a bespoke control system that autonomously manages energy generation, conversion, and allocation for solar and grid-derived energy, balancing this against operational electricity requirements in real-time.

Phase 2 of ZCEF involved the connection and interfacing of 46 SMA Solar Central Inverters (across 14 sites), 61 Wall Mount Inverters (across six sites) and nine Tesla Powerpack battery systems to develop an overarching Power Management System.

The Power Management System interfaced between SA Power Networks and AEMO grid connection data, SA Water’s SCADA systems and various existing plant metering in order to command the battery and solar controller, balancing the power between the solar and batteries generation.

The system also monitored and controlled ancillary equipment such as solar panel sun tracking systems and weather monitoring stations.

SAGE-Mannum-PanelAn SMA Australia Central Inverter (pictured left) and control room (right) at SA Water's Mannum Plant, form part of the connected Power Management System.

The Power Management System included alarms and shutdown mechanisms to compare output with grid requirements to ensure SA Water remain compliant with ElectraNet, SA Power Networks and AEMO regulations.

The system also interfaced with the power protection systems to notify SA Water when a site fault occurs or the system is unable to meet the AEMO bidding targets, providing valuable data enabling real-time decision-making for cost saving, maintenance, and easier reporting for compliance obligations.

The system integrates communication to AEMO for NEM bidding data and SA Power Networks or ElectraNet grid setpoints, calculating the solar and battery generation allowed to maximise energy production.

The NEM has an energy bidding system every 5 minutes and 30 minutes, with pricing changing based on market demand and available energy on the grid. The Power Management System enables SA Water to adjust energy generation at each separate site in real-time, maximising energy production for the NEM while retaining optimal energy requirements for SA Water to remain efficient at all times.

SAGE-Adelaide-Desal-PlantAn SMA Central Inverter (pictured left), and some termination in its interior (right) at SA Water's Adelaide Desalination Plant.

For SA Water's Happy Valley, Mannum 2 and Mannum 3 sites, SAGE, in partnership with subcontractor Specialised Solutions, provided new solar/battery control rooms for the project.  

SAGE-specialised-solutions-solar-baterry-control-roomA purpose-built solar/battery control room at Happy Valley.

The Power Management System had to interface to a wide variety of energy generation systems, multiple electricity providers and AEMO, various ancillary equipment and existing site control systems for some sites. A system capable of communicating to a variety of systems while maintaining high performance in order to control the energy generation in real-time was required. Schneider Electric’s Modicon M580 Ethernet Programmable Automatic Controllers (ePACs) were a perfect fit for the project requirements, supporting the delivery of a highly modifiable, scalable, and future-proof solution.

SAGE-control-room-Murray-BridgeNewly installed control panels in SA Water's Murray Bridge control room.

The software for the Schneider M580 ePACs was developed using a modular coding standard, allowing for different calculation elements, hardware interfaces, and alarming groups to be created for each site’s unique hardware elements, grid connection requirements and existing plant systems. The system also has future capacity to allow for future additions and enhancements.


SAGE delivered the control and integration of behind-the-metre energy assets at 20 of SA Water’s key treatment plant sites to the Grid Connection Agreement (GCA) requirements, providing SA Water with comprehensive monitoring and full control of its solar systems.

The new Power Management system interfaces to:

  • Solar controllers
  • Battery controllers
  • Central Inverters
  • AEMO/SA Power Networks/ElectraNet RTU's
  • Power meters
  • Solar tracking systems
  • Weather stations
  • Protection relays
  • Distribution system (such as monitoring circuit breakers)

The solution connects SA Water’s disparate systems, blending old and new systems seamlessly and future-proofing the operation for further development while maximising operational efficiency via reduced operational costs, greater control over energy supply, and providing additional revenue streams that enable SA Water to offer low and stable billing for its customers.


  • Stage 1:
    • Fronius Solar Inverters
    • Rockwell Compact Logix PLCs
  • Stage 2:
    • 46 SMA Solar Central Inverters (across 14 sites)
    • 61 Wall Mount Inverters (across six sites)
    • 9 Tesla Powerpack battery system
    • Schneider Electric M580 PLCs and Magelis HMIs

New-equipment-inside-of-central-inverterOne of the SMA Solar Central Inverters, featuring new equipment installed by SAGE.  

Project highlights

  • SA Water, the end client, can reduce its environmental footprint while also reducing energy costs (potentially by as much as $80M/year)
  • 154MW of solar and battery capacity delivered across metro and regional SA
  • Distributed generation and storage capacity installed across approximately 33 SA Water sites across South Australia.

SAGE Automation is a Master Alliance Partner of Schneider Electric and a Master Alliance System Integrator for Water and Wastewater, awarded to system integrators who are trusted to successfully implement Schneider solutions by meeting specific requirements and evidenced through project references validated by clients.

Learn how SAGE Automation can help you to manage industrial energy costs while adding additional revenue streams. Get in touch using the form below. 

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