First Solar, together with The University of Queensland, announces the start of construction of a 3.275 MW solar photovoltaic research facility at the Gatton campus of the university.
This project will be the biggest solar PV research facility in Australia’s Southern Hemisphere. It will provide world-leading research on large-scale solar power systems. The project includes a megawatt-hour-scale battery storage research station. This research facility will improve the solar power industry’s understanding of the importance of short and medium-term energy storage, its resulting economic benefits and its impact on the power supply quality. The plant will be constructed in a sprawling 10 hectares of land. When completed, it is designed to provide enough electricity for more than 450 average Australian households. This is equivalent to getting 1590 cars out of the streets, or preventing over 5600 tonnes of carbon dioxide from polluting the air.
What will the New Research Facility Provide?
“The researchers using this facility will provide new insights on integrating large-scale renewable power plants with conventional electricity grids”, stated Professor Peter Hoj, University of Queensland Vice-Chancellor and President. This project will also function as a pilot plant for new and existing large-scale solar projects being undertaken by First Solar for AGL PV Solar Developments which includes Broken Hill (53 MW) and Nyngan (102 MW). “These researchers are some of the best in the business, and their teamwork with an innovative global company such as First Solar will ensure optimal returns on a substantial Australian government investment in renewable energy R&D with excellent implications for society and the environment”, added Peter Hoj. First Solar and the University of Queensland agreed to undertake the project in October, 2013. The contract requires First Solar to supply and install about 40,000 advanced thin-film photovoltaic panels in ground-mounted arrays. This company also provides the engineering, purchasing and construction services related to the project.
“The Gatton research facility will evidence the value that private and public sector research collaboration can bring to the renewable energy sector. It will also support First Solar in the continued delivery of best-in-class technology to the market,”” said Jack Curtis, Regional Manager for Asia Pacific, First Solar. “Our collaboration with UQ will result in advanced local solar-generation technologies that will strengthen the solar industry’s position with Australia’s energy mix,” he added. According to the director of UQ Solar, Professor Meredith, the project will supply 30% of the energy needs of the UQ Gatton campus. He also said that this project will also enhance their “knowledge and implementation of grid integration of large solar power systems”. “It will allow us to compare and contrast new technologies by studying electrical and economic performance of multiple PV mounting technologies through the installation and operation of fixed-tilt, single-axis and dual-axis technologies side by side in the same field,” he added.
The University of Queensland is one of the leading learning and research institutions in Australia. It is ranked in the top 100 of all universities worldwide. First Solar is one of the leading global suppliers of comprehensive photovoltaic solar systems. This company uses the advanced module and system technology.