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University of the Sunshine Coast, Queensland

'Water battery' and district cooling installation by Veolia.

Aerial view of solar panels installed across a range of roofs and a large cylindrical water tank at a university campus.

The University of the Sunshine Coast partnered with environmental services company, Veolia, to build a sustainable cooling solution for the USC Sunshine Coast campus and reduce the University's emissions through on-site use of renewable generation.

A thermal energy storage tank and more than 6,500 solar panels were installed across campus rooftops and carpark structures, with the system switched on in late August 2019. The installation and successful implementation of the system is a major milestone towards the University's target of becoming carbon neutral by 2025.

Technical details

Three students stand in front of a large black water tank battery on a university campus.
Students standing in front of the 'water battery'. Courtesy: Veolia.

The system consists of 2.1-megawatts of photovoltaics and a 4.5 megalitre water (thermal energy) storage tank, effectively acting as an eight-megawatt battery. The cooled water is stored and used for air conditioning, which is currently the single biggest user of electricity at the campus.

The system is expected to save more than 100 thousand tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions over 25 years, equivalent to the emissions of 525 average Australian houses for the same period. It will lead to an estimated $100 million saving for the university over the 25-year life of the project.

The system performed beyond expectations in its first year of operation saving 4,232 tonnes of CO2 emissions – with 3,082 tonnes saved by USC through using solar power instead of grid electricity, and the rest by Veolia sending solar energy back to the electricity grid.

Watch a presentation on the project by Veolia and the University of the Sunshine Coast


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