University of Adelaide breaks ground on Roseworthy Campus solar farm

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The University of Adelaide broke ground for a new 1.2 MW solar farm on its Roseworthy Campus yesterday, an installation that will supply over 40% of the campus’ energy requirements.

The Solar and Energy Storage Project was one of 20 to receive funding through the State Government’s $150 million Renewable Technology Fund which looks to bolster the runout of renewable energy technologies in South Australia.

University of Adelaide Chief Operating Officer, Bruce Lines, said the solar farm is part of the University’s Sustainability Plan, an effort to decrease the environmental impact of its operations. This plan has been partially facilitated by a $778, 500 grant for a hybrid battery storage solution as part of the overall $7 million solar project.

There is however, from the university’s perspective, not solely a financial and environmental benefit, but also an educational one. “The solar farm will be a ‘living laboratory’ for students and researchers,” said Lines, “with access to time-lapse recording of the construction, building plans and data systems for remote-energy management, energy storage and load flex.”

“Our researchers will utilise the solar farm and battery storage systems for projects including energy management strategies, grid segregation, low-cost fault detection systems, system resilience, and cybersecurity,” said Lines.

As Australia transitions its energy dependence to renewables the necessity for research into PV and ever more practical concerns such as remote-energy management, grid segregation etc., cannot be understated. The ongoing long-term accomplishments of the University of New South Wales’s (UNSW) School of Photovoltaics and Renewable Energy Engineering and The University of Newcastle’s (UON) Centre of Organic Electronics (COE) are well-known and rightfully lionised, but a national transition cannot sweep the country unless more institutions of higher education contribute.

Thankfully this progress looks to be taking place. In addition to the University of Adelaide this week, Victoria’s La Trobe University also announced its intention to utilise coming on-campus solar installations for solar PV research.

South Australian Minister for Energy and Mining Dan van Holst Pellekaan congratulated the University of Adelaide on behalf of the Marshall Government on “reaching this milestone and its commitment to improving renewable energy technology.”

“Put simply,” said Pellekaan, “this project will reduce the University’s peak electricity demand, reduce energy costs and increase the resilience of supply to the campus.”

The Solar and Energy Storage Project is expected to be operational by May 2020.