Thargomindah Water Cooling Project
Stafford Street, Thargomindah
Completed, March 2021
Thargomindah is 850km west of Toowoomba and is well known for its innovative approach to ensuring the town stays on the map. Back in 1891 Thargomindah became the first town in Australia and the third town in the world to produce hydro-electric power for street lighting by using the water pressure from the Artesian Basin. Continuing its legacy as a green council, Bulloo Shire has made significant investments in renewable energy, including a new Water-Cooling Project that NRG Services were proud to deliver as a Design and Construct project. Now in 2021 the Bulloo shire council is proud to call itself the greenest shire in the west.
To be awarded this project, the team comprising of Bulloo Shire Council, Peak Services and NRG services needed to offer an innovative solution to ensure that in the future the township of Thargomindah had a reliable supply of cooled potable water (Town Supply), maximizing the use of renewable energy and using the current water supply from the Great Artesian Basin. The main problem they needed to overcome was that during the summer months, the bore water would come out of the ground at around 72 degrees and although existing cooling ponds were being used to reduce the temperature, it only reduced the water temperature to around 55 degrees.
NRG teamed up with local Hydraulic, Mechanical, Structural and inhouse Electrical Engineers, to design, supply, deliver, install, test and commission a system to suit. The team were successfully awarded the tender in August 2020. That same month the NRG team started working with local subcontractors on the remote site in the Bulloo Shire Council region, to build a cooling system that would be powered from Solar generation and supported by battery storage.
To achieve the desired outcome of having water supplied to the township at a targeted temperature of 35 oC, a system was designed and installed that saw the 72 oC hot artesian bore water pumped through a series of highly efficient plate heat exchanges with the use of cooling towers to achieve the desired target temperature. The cooled water is then stored in three 500,000 litre storage tanks ready for use by the town when needed at a target temperature of 35 oC or lower.
To meet the scope requirement of an energy efficient system, NRG Services installed a 240kW ground mount solar array system that consists of 558, 450W solar panels. The solar array system is connected to a containerised battery storage solution that is made up of Samsung lithium-ion battery cells that provides 583 stored kilowatt hours of energy for powering the site overnight or during periods of low sunshine.
The cooling tower fans, and water pumps are variably speed controlled to limit power consumption and to optimise the cooling and pumping processes throughout the day
All equipment is designed to operate in the extreme 49 oC Thargomindah summer temperatures and the entire electrical system is also connected to the local Ergon Energy grid for emergency back-up purposes but can operate indefinitely in “island” mode disconnected from the grid.
The final part of the process is the cooled water passing through a self-cleaning particle filter and ultra-violet disinfection system prior to pumping to town to ensure the town gets a cool filtered water supply all year round.
This whole system, now operational, is fully automated and has a water management monitoring system connected to the Council’s network, which captures, records, and shows live data. Information such as, power consumption and savings, temperature, flow, and volume of water used. Council has full transparency of the system, which automatically notifies them if a fault occurs and allows them to make modifications and improvements to any design aspects or setpoints.
To ensure complete transparency to the public, NRG Services built a viewing platform, located outside the site. The platform has a commercial display monitor showing graphical illustrations of the water travelling through the system, live data highlighting energy and water usage and savings.
This project has required lateral thinking but has highlighted to NRG, the importance of working collaboratively and thinking outside the box to overcome hurdles and come up with some great solutions for the client.
NRG Services scope of work on this project included:
- Structural, Architectural, Electrical & Mechanical Design
- Ground Mount Solar
- Grid Protection
- Battery Storage and Islanding functionality
- Cooling Towers
- Plate Heat Exchangers
- Water Treatment
- UV Filtration
- Pumping Systems
- Large Scale Water Storage
- Remote Water Management Systems
- HVAC pressurisation
- Construction of Pump House Facility