14 July 2011

Construction has been completed on the nation`s largest flat-panel photovoltaic solar power system, at The University of Queensland`s St Lucia campus in Brisbane.

The system generates 1.22 megawatts of power from the sun, harvested from 5004 panels on the rooftops of four of UQ's biggest buildings.

Vice-Chancellor Professor Paul Greenfield said the UQ Solar Array would provide between five and six per cent of peak electricity demand at the St Lucia campus.

“The University is focussed on reducing carbon emissions and increasing its use of renewable energy,” Professor Greenfield said.

“As well as being part of the University’s functional energy infrastructure, the solar array will underpin research in diverse fields including physics, engineering, economics and sustainability.”

The asset would be shared with the community, by giving industry, researchers, school students, teachers and any other interested people access to a website showing live and historical data about the solar power generated from the UQ array.

“The project is enhanced by its strong industry partnerships, including research agreements with a number of world-leading companies in renewable power,” Professor Greenfield said.

UQ will undertake ongoing solar research projects with:

• Brisbane firm Ingenero, which installed the array, and worked on its design and engineering
Trina Solar, which supplied the panels and will be part of several research projects, one involving the first large-scale field test of a prototype device that increases the efficiency of solar panels, developed by NYSE-listed company National Semiconductor
• ASX-listed, Brisbane-based RedFlow, which supplied a prototype 200kW zinc bromine battery bank that is connected to a 339kW section of solar panels on one of UQ’s multi-storey carparks
• Electricity wholesaler and retailer Energex, which donated for state-of-the-art equipment to allow high-quality monitoring and analysis of the power feed from the UQ solar array
• The Queensland Government’s Office of Clean Energy, which provided million towards the overall cost of the UQ Solar Array

Separate to the rooftop panels, UQ has installed a ground-mounted, seven-metre-by-six metre 8.4 kilowatt concentrating photovoltaic array (CPV) that follows the sun each day as it moves across the sky.

Ingenero donated the SolFocus CPV array to allow UQ researchers to undertake detailed comparisons with a different type of solar technology.

Designing and installing Australia’s biggest rooftop PV solar power system
drew on the combined resources and significant expertise of UQ academics and engineers, working with industry leaders.

UQ's Property & Facilities division and UQ's School of Mathematics and Physics worked closely with engineering consultants Aurecon and lead contractor Ingenero.

Also closely involved with the project are UQ’s Global Change Institute, the UQ School of Information Technology and Electrical Engineering, the UQ School of Economics, the UQ Centre for Organic Photonics and Electronics, the UQ Institute for Molecular Bioscience, the UQ School of Mechanical & Mining Engineering and the UQ School of Chemical Engineering.

The Global Change Institute is hosting the Solar Research Resource Centre in the Steele Building at UQ, a location that industry, school and community groups can visit to learn about the UQ Solar Array and renewable power.

The 1.22 megawatt UQ Solar array is almost 25 per cent larger than any other flat-panel PV system in Australia, with the added complexity of being split between four buildings.

Its total $7.75 million cost included the array, construction of a visitor resource centre, the data management web interface and ancillary research programs.

The cost of the photovoltaic design and installation alone was $4.825 million, equating to $3.95/W.


Craig Froome, UQ Global Change Institute, ph 07 3365 3689/0410 559 135
Fiona Cameron, UQ Communications, ph 07 3346 7086 / 0407 113342