Solar plant powers up in Queensland

Solar plant

By Courtney Pearson

A fully operational re-deployable solar-diesel hybrid power plant has been unveiled in regional Queensland, understood to be the first of its kind.

The Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA)-funded 1 megawatt project was delivered, unpacked and functional in seven days and provides power to a 350-bed accommodation village.

ARENA chief executive Ivor Frischknecht said the $1.4 million plant in Combabula was a “game-changer” and a clear demonstration of an alternative to diesel-powered generators.

“It provides off-grid locations with a viable energy alternative to a portion of expensive, trucked-in diesel and overcomes the barriers and risks associated with permanent, fixed framed solar installations,” he said.

The plant can be scaled up or down through removable power modules and can be packed up and moved elsewhere. The hybrid plant also includes a 144 kilowatt peak of solar photovoltaic.

“This allows the solar panels to be re-used several times over their lifespan and is suitable for construction projects, mine sites and other applications where temporary power is required,” Mr Frischknecht said.

The plant was built by Laing O’Rourke to support the company’s Combabula accommodation village.

Laing O’Rourke is in the process of making the system commercially available to the broader market.

“We believe this investment and innovation could provide huge benefits to remote communities, business operations and construction projects in the future, as well as have particular benefits for events that require rapid deployment of power units – such as disaster recovery,” Laing O’Rourke managing director Cathal O’Rourke said.