UQ Centre rooftop solar.

The University of Queensland has a considerable portfolio of infrastructure and capacity for solar research spanning fundamental next generation technology development, systems-related engineering, and policy, regulation and energy economics.

UQ owns and operates > 5.5 MW of solar PV across our campuses – more than any other university in the world. These plants deliver a ‘quadruple bottom line’ providing:

  • Valuable clean energy (> 21 GW h of electricity to date) and associated Large Scale Generation Certificates
  • Unique pilot-scale systems-level research capacity
  • Powerful external engagement tool for the community, government and industry
  • Outstanding and relevant source materials for undergraduate education and postgraduate training programs.

ST LUCIA MW ARRAY

Commissioned in early 2011, the UQ St Lucia MW Array was our first large solar PV system. It has a peak capacity of about 1.25 MW and is constructed of Trina Solar c-Si solar PV panels connected to Aurora Power One string inverters. The system is spread over four main roofs on the St Lucia campus with a variety of fixed orientations north-to-north west.

It remains Australia’s largest roof top array and has attracted more than 1000 visitors since its opening.

As of 13 October 2016, the array's combined 47,000 solar panels had generated 20 million kWh of clean energy. That's equivalent to the energy requirements of about 3500 average Australian homes or removing some 7000 commuter vehicles off our roads.

 

Why go solar?

With an ever-increasing demand for electricity, now is the right time for Queensland to take advantage of its abundant natural resource: 2700 hours of sunshine a year. The new flat-panel solar power system, facilitated by Professor Paul Meredith from the School of Mathematics and Physics, not only demonstrates UQ’s commitment to clean energy, but will also pave the way for other greenhouse friendly power generating plants to feed into the electricity grid in the future.

How will a solar power system help other renewable energy initiatives?

One part of the system has been set up with two identical grids – one feeding into a zinc-bromine storage battery and one directly into the general power grid – to allow experiments to be conducted on how best to feed electricity into grids from stand-alone generating plants. As well as solar, this could include other intermittent sources such as wind, wave, or biomass (plant-based material such as sugar cane).

What other benefits does the system have?

The system generates its own performance data streamed directly on the Internet and can be viewed by anyone with an interest in solar power. This data will be particularly useful for UQ’s many different researchers and will be an interesting “live” display for visitors to the university.

View the live data feed

How much greenhouse gas emissions will the system save?

Around 1750 tonnes annually – about the same as taking 335 cars off the road each year. The system will generate around six percent of UQ St Lucia’s average peak demand annual electricity usage.

Why is this project so important?

Any developments in managing energy will have enormous impacts on the power industry. At present the industry has to be capable of providing enough energy to meet peak demand, meaning more cost and more infrastructure. If the peaks can be lowered through alternative energy provision, significant savings will result for everyone. As the first project of its kind in Australia, the UQ Solar St Lucia array represents a major piece of infrastructure nationally and places UQ at the forefront of solar research internationally. Its renewable energy is also a boon for reducing Australia’s carbon emissions.

What are the future plans?

More photovoltaic panels are scheduled to be installed across the university, to complement the smaller arrays already located at Heron Island and Gatton. UQ will continue to work with the State Government’s Office of Clean Energy on sustainable energy projects. Energex will also be working with UQ to plan how electricity storage can best be utilised within the distribution network.

And what of other renewable energy solutions?

UQ Gatton scientists are currently investigating how animal waste can be converted into energy; and major research is being undertaken by UQ Centres on other future energy sources such as geothermal (Queensland Geothermal Centre of Excellence), solar PV technology (Centre for Organic Photonics and Electronics), biofuels (Institute of Molecular Biology), and hydrogen (ARC Centre of Excellence in Nanomaterials).

How big is the system?

The University of Queensland has a considerable portfolio of infrastructure and capacity for solar research spanning fundamental next generation technology development, systems-related engineering, and policy, regulation and energy economics. UQ owns and operates more 5.5 MW of solar PV across our campuses – more than any other university in the world. These plants deliver a ‘quadruple bottom line’ providing:

  • Valuable clean energy (> 21 GW h of electricity to date) and associated Large Scale Generation Certificates
  • Unique pilot-scale systems-level research capacity
  • Powerful external engagement tool for the community, government and industry
  • Outstanding and relevant source materials for undergraduate education and postgraduate training programs.
Location Size Date Installer / manufacturer
UQ (Gatton) 3.27 MW 2015 First Solar / AGL PV Solar Holdings
UQ (St Lucia) 1.25 MW 2011 Trina Solar / Aurora Power
Adelaide Showgrounds 1 MW 2010 SolarShop / First Solar
Sydney Theatre Co 500 kW 2010 DCM Solar / Suntech
Singleton Energy Aust 404 kW 1997 Energy Australia / BP Solar
Bendigo – Solar City 352 kW 2009 Yocasol / PSG Elecraft
Ballarat – Solar City 333 kW 2009 Sharp/Eco Energy Solutions
Crowne Plaza – Alice Springs 305 kW 2008 SunPower / SunPower

Source: APVA, UQ

Photovoltaic Array

Live Data Feed – view real-time and historical information on electricity generated by the UQ Solar St Lucia Array.  The data from the meters is transmitted every minute to the server that generates the live data feed. Due to the time needed to send, receive and process data, the information on the live feed display is less than two minutes “old”.

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