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SAGE Automation provided a complete behind the meter solar grid connection and power plant controller, along with the manufacture of a main switchboard for SA Water to provide end customer benefits of reduced costs.



Grid-connected, behind the meter industrial solar system reduces utility energy costs for end-customer benefits.

Behind the meter solar grid connection, Power Plant Controller (PPC), regulatory compliance, energy control and monitoring, end-to-end project delivery, switch room manufacture, main switchboard manufacture.

Adelaide, South Australia, Australia

Ben Birch, Commercial Manager, Enerven

“As one of Australia’s first behind the meter applications of solar on this scale, it was a complex project, not without its challenges. SAGE came to the table with solutions and workarounds so we've been able achieve a blueprint for similar applications moving forward."


SA Water delivers clean water, removes and treats wastewater, and recycles wastewater for more than 1.7 million customers across South Australia.

Driven by energy market uncertainty, and in order to achieve low and stable prices for its customers, SA Water committed to achieving sustainability through launching its Zero Cost Energy Future project in 2018.

The project strategy intends to minimise the business’ total electricity costs while taking acceptable market risks with the overall goal to neutralise electricity operating costs.

SA Water sought to achieve this goal through a number of initiatives including the introduction of behind the meter generation and storage capability across multiple sites.

In order to fulfil the technical challenge and meet the ambitious schedule, SA Water needed to engage both a solar installation expert and a specialised partner to deliver the control and monitoring systems essential for effective energy management at their sites. EPC contractor Enerven partnered with control system and automation integrator SAGE Automation to deliver the solution.


Working with Enerven, SAGE supplied the operational control and monitoring systems for the generation and storage assets.

The project will be delivered as two phases, allowing the team to clearly identify the project risk and opportunity before launching into the full deployment of the solution.

During the first phase of the project, 4.2MW of solar photovoltaic (PV) generation capacity was installed 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.

Phase 2 of the project will deploy nearly 370,000 solar panels and it includes thermal storage infrastructure at 33 sites across South Australia.

Solar Panels SA Water

4.2MW of solar photovoltaic (PV) generation capacity installed across three SA Water sites in Adelaide

Smart control and monitoring in cutting-edge application of solar ‘behind the meter’

As part of the first phase of works, SAGE carried out extensive design and engineering of the Power Plant Controller (PPC) and SCADA integration, before testing and installing approximately 150 solar inverters. Containerised ‘switch rooms’ were designed and manufactured to house the solar inverters, power distribution switchboard, and the EMS. The containers were transported and installed on site.

Solar Grid Connection

Large scale behind the metre energy generation systems require a power plant controller (PPC)

End-to-end delivery of a custom power plant controller

SAGE designed and engineered the control and monitoring systems as part of the first phase of the project.

Design work included:

  • LV AC electrical
  • Power Plant Controller (PPC)
  • PPC Network, including DNSP RTU, protection, metering and inverter interfaces
  • LV Switchboard
  • String inverter 40ft container.

Power Plant Controller (PPC)
The PPC is a bespoke control system that autonomously manages energy generation, conversion and allocation for solar and grid-derived energy while balancing this against operational electricity requirements in real-time.

The system allows for remote monitoring and control via smart device.

Design And Engineer Control System

SAGE developed a custom control system to autonomously manage energy generation

Testing, commissioning and installation
SAGE carried out detailed testing as part of the installation process, including:

• FAT and SAT Testing
• Commissioning
• DNSP testing.

SCADA integration
Large scale behind the meter energy generation system requires a PPC with a SCADA interface that can be accessed, controlled and monitored by governing power authority's system and the company's SCADA. SAGE integrated these systems, with care to plan for future onsite storage infrastructure.

Time-lapse video of the solar PV control system build


Australian manufacture
Electrical and automation components were manufactured at SAGE’s Advanced Manufacturing Facility in Adelaide before being transported, installed and integrated onsite:

  • Energy Management Systems
  • Main switchboards
  • Bespoke containerised switch rooms

The switch rooms house the solar inverters, power distribution switchboard, and the PPC.


Smart control of solar energy generation

The sophisticated automation delivered with this new generation solar infrastructure will assist in delivering a fundamental change to SA Water’s operations. It allows SA Water to convert, control and monitor the renewable energy generated while planning for future storage capabilities and energy market opportunities.

The project will provide SA Water with access to 242 GWh (gigawatt hours) of new solar photovoltaic generation and 34 MWh of energy storage – putting SA Water on track to become an exporter of energy back into the grid.

It is expected the new capability will allow the utility to achieve Large-scale Generation Certification at the sites, and export surplus to the grid in their effort to achieve a zero cost energy future. 

Benefits of the renewable energy initiative

With the first phase of the project now delivered, SA Water expect to achieve:

  • Reduced operational costs
  • Reliable energy supply through network support
  • Sustainable future business model
  • Low and stable customer bills
  • Additional revenue streams.

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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