ARENA to put $450k towards development of Aussie-designed portable hybrid solar generator

An Australian-designed, off-grid renewables solution is a step closer to being realised, after winning further funding from ARENA.

The Australian Renewable Energy Association has announced it will put $450,000 towards the $1.4 million development of a pilot-scale portable solar-hybrid plant, having previously (in April) invested $410,000 in a feasibility study of the technology.
ARENA said the company behind the technology, Laing O’Rourke, would now proceed with the setting up and packing down of the world’s first fully redeployable large-scale solar-diesel hybrid power plant – a 1 MW facility with 134 KWp of solar PV.

The plant – to be developed at a Laing O’Rourke’s 350-bed accommodation village in regional Queensland – will consist of transport-friendly container-sized modules, making it well suited for off-grid applications, particularly mining and other short- and medium-term ventures.

“A semi-portable hybrid system like this carries enormous potential – it may provide industries and communities in regional and remote locations with a viable renewable energy alternative and could equally be used to assist in international relief efforts,” said ARENA CEO Ivor Frischknecht, in a statement on Wednesday.

“The speed at which this game-changing solution has progressed from the drawing board to the field is a testament to the clever Australian design and its potential to bring more renewable energy to off-grid Australia.”

Laing O’Rourke Managing Director Cathal O’Rourke said a major part of his company’s motivation for developing the solar-hybrid technology was to cut its own operating costs and tap a cleaner energy alternative.

“Construction and engineering must break away from traditional processes if it is to evolve and deliver projects quickly, safely and more sustainably,” O’Rourke said.

“Our engineering and construction operations across Australia currently deploy hundreds of diesel generators, of which many can potentially be augmented with this new renewable energy technology.

“As specialists in major remote and regional projects, we have an opportunity to harness vast amounts of solar energy at our projects, for a sustainable engineering solution.”

Top image: Mockup of Liang O’Rourke’s hybrid solar-diesel generator, via Liang O’Rourke

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Giles Parkinson