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2018 prediction: Shifting to a solar-first perspective

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Solar energy is a growing industry in Australia. In 2016, Australia registered an almost 50% growth in clean energy investment, with many other experts noting that solar energy investment ‘bonanza’ is set to hit Australia.

In 2016, Australia registered an almost 50% growth in clean energy investment. 

But solar energy is not as accessible in some parts of Australia as others. In regional and rural Australia, the lack of grid connection means an unbalanced reliance upon diesel energy, which is not the most sustainable or environmentally-conscious choice.

To find out more, Jobsite spoke with ARENA, the Australian Renewable Energy Agency, a government entity looking to accelerate Australia’s shift to an affordable and reliable renewable energy future.

A spokesperson for ARENA noted that solar PV (photovoltaic) is one of the agency’s key investment priorities. This includes continued support for university level research and development, technology commercialisation, and delivery methods such as the SunShift partnership.

Re-deployable solar power plants aid regional efforts

In remote and regional Australia, the provision of large-scale solar energy plants was typically limited. Mobilising a solar farm for short-term deployment, for instances such as construction or mining, was complex, as solar farms are traditionally constructed on-site from many thousands of components.

Modularisation of solar energy was a core solution, and ARENA titled this project ‘SunShift.’ One of the key goals of the SunShift project was to find a way to deliver renewable energy applications to regional and remote areas where there is no grid connection. 

Modularisation of solar energy was a core solution, and ARENA titled this project ‘SunShift.’ 

The concept is simple: a scalable, modular system for solar energy that can be quickly set up and easily packed down. The solar farm then goes on to provide energy for temporary scenarios such as construction sites or disaster relief.

“SunShift provides flexibility and the ability to compete with other modular electricity supply options to these rural areas, such as diesel generators, by being scalable. When they’re no longer needed, they can be picked up and moved to the next site,” the ARENA spokesperson said.

A bright future for modular solar 

Commercial industry appetite for modular solar options shows no signs of slowing down, said ARENA.

“We are seeing more and more companies looking at and developing their own redeployable and modular solar options for the commercial market,” said a spokesperson for ARENA. “We expect development to continue and in the future to see further services included such as storage through batteries.”

“We expect development to continue and in the future to see further services included such as storage through batteries.” 

All of these innovations, it is hoped, will contribute to a reduction in the need for diesel generators. 

“Together we’re bringing solar arrays, battery storage and the necessary controls to remote communities across the top end of Australia. This reduces the need for diesel generators but it also brings opportunities and jobs to those communities and takes the renewable energy message to new and important audiences,” the spokesperson said. 

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