Supplying poly pipe to world-leading Sundrop Farms

16 August 2021

When a futuristic, 20-hectare greenhouse that uses only renewable sources opened in Port Augusta in 2016, tomatoes weren’t the only thing to start flourishing.

Sundrop Farms managed to transform the sleepy town into a world-leading horticultural and renewable energy destination — and Advanced Piping Systems were along for the ride, as a supplier of poly pipe to the facility.

A growing industry

Port Augusta is a country town that’s home to just under 4,000 people, and is located at the northern end of Spencer Gulf, 310 kilometres from the closest capital city of Adelaide, South Australia.

Once a bustling seaport, it is now known as a ‘crossroads town’, acting as a road junction for the Stuart Highway to the north, Eyre Highway to the west and Princes Highway to the south.

“Before 2016, there was really nothing in Port Augusta,” said Nathan Craig, Director of Advanced Piping Systems.

“And now when you drive to Port Augusta, you actually almost think you’re entering a city because the Sundrop Farms facility is so big!”

Sundrop Farms is a 20-hectare greenhouse that uses sunlight and seawater to grow about 17,000 tonnes of truss tomatoes a year.

The innovative facility uses more than 23,000 mirrors to capture sunlight and direct it to a central receiver at the top of a 127-metre tall CSP (concentrated solar power) ‘power’ tower, that glows white-hot during the day.

All the water used for irrigating the crops is piped from the Spencer Gulf and converted into fresh water using a thermal powered desalination unit.

At its peak, it produces 39 megawatts of thermal energy, which is used for electricity, heating and making water.

Sundrop Farms has a 10-year supply contract with Coles Supermarkets.

Supplying poly pipe to a landmark project

In 2016, when construction began, Advanced Piping systems were contracted by John Holland to supply PE pipe, as well as fittings and accessories, poly welders and contractor training to the facility.

“We supplied Sundrop Farms with in-ground infrastructure HDPE piping, to be used for their underground fire system, potable water reticulation and wastewater transfer,” said Nathan.

“This included extra-long, straight HDPE piping — 20+ metre lengths that had to be transported on extended semi’s — and we also supplied spigot fittings, butt welders and provided welding training and accreditation to the contractor.

“This meant that when the buttwelding machines arrived on site, the civil construction team had all the gear, know-how & confidence to do the welding successfully themselves.”

The supplied poly pipes were all striped for identification: orange for power, green for rain water, blue for potable water and red for fire mains. The ability to run colour striping is unique to poly pipes.

In addition, Advanced Piping Systems also supplied made-to-order identification tapes that act as an ‘early warning’ should future excavation occur near the power and water lines.

It was this unique ability to supply a range of products and services that meant Advanced Piping Systems was the preferred poly pipe supplier for the project, believes Nathan.

“We didn’t just supply the pipe and fittings — we were also able to supply the training, the welding equipment and onsite support, which is really quite unique,” he said.

“There are few suppliers in Australia that could supply lengths of poly pipe that they required too.

“Plus, we’d previously worked with John Holland on the construction of the Adelaide Desalination Plant, so they knew that we were able to deliver projects on time and on budget.”

For Nathan, being able to supply Advanced Piping Systems’ products and services to this innovative, world-leading project was an incredibly satisfying task.

“We supplied materials in the very early stages of construction of the facility, where there were just trenches in the ground and a few metal brackets for the solar reflection panels to sit on, so we didn’t really know what the end product would look like,” said Nathan.

“Now it’s known as a landmark in South Australia and has really helped put Port Augusta on the map.

“It really is one of a kind and was a very cool project for us to be involved in,” he said.

For more than 30 years Advanced Piping Systems have been working with some of Australia’s largest mining, civil and industrial companies to ensure every piping project is delivered on time and to the highest standard.

Just like Sundrop Farms, we’d love to supply our quality PE pipe, fittings and accessories, welders or training to your project.

Request a quote or contact our friendly customer service team to discuss your requirements today.