A portable solar-diesel power plant used for off-grid applications that require temporary power is set to begin commercialisation.

Construction company Laing O’Rourke’s moveable solar-diesel power plant with advanced control systems has been successfully piloted and will be commercialised through the newly formed clean energy company, SunSHIFT.

The Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) provided initial funding for a feasibility study and a pilot project, with Laing O’Rourke now establishing SunSHIFT to commercialise its moveable solar-diesel hybrid power plant.

ARENA CEO, Ivor Frischknecht, said, “Scalability, quick setup and easy pack down presents an ideal solution for many off-grid applications where temporary power is required such as construction projects, mine sites and disaster relief.

“It also allows solar panels to be re-used several times for greater value.

“The system performed as expected during the six month trial period and pack-up was impressively carried out by four people in just four days.

“This successful demonstration project has given Laing O’Rourke the confidence to commit to further developing its technology and is a crucial step in proving the technical and commercial viability of moveable, modular renewable energy concepts more broadly.”

ARENA provided $410,000 support for the feasibility and design work and a further $450,000 for this latest $1.8million demonstration project.

SunSHIFT General Manager and Laing O’Rourke Clean Tech Leader, Dr Will Rayward-Smith, said that careful selection of partners greatly contributed to the success of the project.

“ARENA’s grant funding support has been crucial to the project’s success so far. ABB’s robust microgrid solutions combined with SunPower’s high-performance solar panels enabled the system to perform fault-free for the trial period,” Dr Rayward-Smith said.

“SunSHIFT provides the financial and carbon benefits of solar with the speed of deployment, flexibility and modularity of a conventional diesel or gas generator. This is music to the ears of off-grid electricity consumers.

“Further, due to the flexibility and mobility of the technology, we can provide systems on off take agreements as short as five years with rollover or buy-out options or through upfront purchase with buy-back options.”

“The market has reacted very positively. We are fielding enquiries for multi-megawatt SunSHIFT systems from domestic mining sites and remote communities, and overseas from emerging economies.

“It is exciting to be providing solar in a format that meets the needs of the off-grid market. We are giving solar a residual value profile, avoiding stranded asset risk and decoupling asset life from end-user life,” Dr Rayward-Smith said.

Jessica Dickers

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