The Gatton Solar Research Facility generates enough clean energy to power more than 400 average-sized homes.
The Gatton Solar Research Facility generates enough clean energy to power more than 400 average-sized homes.

Across UQ there is a comprehensive portfolio of energy research, with significant programs in several areas of clean energy. GCI has major projects in systems-level solar research, including solar photovoltaic (PV) solar thermal network integration and storage.

In 2015 researchers turned on the Southern Hemisphere’s largest photovoltaic systems research facility at UQ’s Gatton campus.

The Gatton Solar Research Facility, funded through a $40.7 million Australian Government grant and built with US manufacturer First Solar, consists of a 3.275 MW solar array with more than 37,000 panels and 720 kWh battery storage. At three times the size of the university’s existing flat panel solar array, the Gatton Solar Research Facility provides as much as 20 per cent of the energy required at UQ’s Gatton campus.

In addition, the PV array at the Gatton Solar Research Facility feeds into an on-site battery storage system, allowing significant research into interactive yield management and assisting research into new methods of feeding power to the grid. Ultimately, this research will pave the way for other renewable energy plants to play an increasingly complementary role and eventually help replace carbon-intensive power generation sources.

Clean Energy Program Leader


UQ Solar Director: Professor Tapan Saha


Clean Energy Discussion Papers

Current Clean Energy Research Projects

1. Coordinated Control of PV Inverters, Capacitor Banks and Battery Storage via Object Linking and Embedding for Process Control (OPC)

Objectives and alignment with strategic priorities:
To prosecute a world-class research program on systems-level integration of solar power

2. Projecting Solar PV Yields

The objective of this research will be to project PV yields using simulation software and compare against terrestrial on-site measurements at the three solar farm sites (Gatton, Nyngan and Broken Hill) to assess the adequacy of modelling based on BOM satellite solar and climate data to replicate the on-site measurements.

Objectives and alignment with strategic priorities:
To assist industry and government in overcoming the hurdles to large-scale deployment of solar power in Australia by de-risking technology, overcoming regulatory challenges and establishing business models

3. Levelised Cost Modelling and Assessment of Financial Feasibility

Objectives and alignment with strategic priorities:
To assist industry and government in overcoming the hurdles to large-scale deployment of solar power in Australia by de-risking technology, overcoming regulatory challenges and establishing business models

4. Optimising the Return from the UQ Solar Gatton Array

Objectives and alignment with strategic priorities:
To demonstrate UQ’s commitment to a clean energy future for our students, staff and external stakeholders.


Clean Energy Links

GCI Clean Energy Discussion Papers

GCI Discussion Paper No.6 Discussion Paper No. 7
Determining Viable Contract-for-Difference Prices and Revenue Receipts for Gatton Solar Research Facility (PDF) 2 MB

Abstract
In this paper, we investigate the role that a Contract-for-Difference (CFD) feed-in tariff might play in underpinning increased investment in renewable energy in Australia. We investigate two particular CFD designs: two-way and a one-way CFD. We develop a financial model that is capable of determining commercially viable CFD strike prices for different renewable energy projects. In this modelling, we take account of revenue from wholesale electricity market and renewable energy certificate sales. We also include capital and operational costs of the project including distribution of funds for holders of equity and debt. We present findings bases on analysis of the solar array located at UQ Campus Gatton Australia, employing a typical meteorological year framework.  Our major findings are that governments will prefer a two-way CFD design and Single-Axis tracking solar array technology. Project proponents, however, will strongly prefer a one-way CFD design.
 


GCI Discussion Paper No.6Discussion Paper No. 6
Projecting Solar PV Yield of the Solar Array Installed at UQ Gatton Campus Using NREL’s SAM Model (PDF) 2 MB

Abstract
The viability of utility scale solar PV farms will depend critically upon the annual production of such farms. A crucial determinant of solar PV yield will be prevailing solar irradiance and weather conditions.  In Australia, the combined effects of weather relating to solar irradiance, temperature and rainfall on PV yield is likely to be closely linked to the El NiƱo–Southern Oscillation ENSO cycle. To investigate this we use NREL’s SAM model to simulate electricity production from a 3.275 megawatt pilot solar PV plant at The University of Queensland’s Gatton Campus. A key finding was that the best simulated PV yields were obtained during 2013 and 2014, when ENSO neutral conditions but with an El Nino bias prevailed. The worst years were 2010 and 2011 which were characterised by moderate and weak La Nina phases of ENSO. All other years considered had average PV yield outcomes including 2015 which experienced a very strong El Nino event.


Discussion Paper No. 5
Assessment of the Comparative Productive Performance of Three Solar PV Technologies Installed at UQ Gatton Campus Using The NREL SAM Model (PDF) 2.6 MB

Abstract
The economic assessment of the viability of different types of solar PV tracking technologies centres on assessment of whether the annual production of the different tracking technologies is increased enough to compensate for the higher cost of installation and operational expenditures incurred by the tracking systems. To investigate this issue, we use the NREL’s SAM model to simulate electricity production from three representative solar PV systems installed at Gatton. In these simulations we use hourly solar irradiance, weather and surface albedo data, technical data relating to both module and inverter characteristics and impacts associated with module soiling and near-object shading. A key finding was that over the period 2007 to 2015, average increases in annual production of between 23.9 and 24.3 per cent and 38.0 and 39.1 per cent were obtained for Single Axis and Dual Axis tracking systems relative to the Fixed Tilt system.


Levelised Cost of Energy (LCOE) of Three Solar PV Technologies Installed at UQ Gatton Campus
Discussion Paper No. 4
Levelised Cost of Energy (LCOE) of Three Solar PV Technologies Installed at UQ Gatton Campus (PDF) 2.8 MB

Abstract
Economic assessment of the viability of different types of solar PV tracking technologies centres on assessment of whether the annual production of the different tracking technologies is increased enough relative to a benchmark Fixed Tilt system to compensate for the higher cost of installation and operation incurred by the tracking systems. To investigate this issue, we calculated the LCOE of three representative solar PV systems. These calculations depend crucially on assumptions made about ($/kW) construction costs as well as annual capacity factors of the three solar technologies considered. A key finding was that the Single Axis Tracking technology was the most cost competitive, followed by a Fixed Tilt system. A Dual Axis Tracking system was the least cost competitive technology of those considered. We also considered how LCOE could underpin a ‘Contract-for-Difference’ feed-in tariff scheme.



Discussion Paper No. 3
Comparative Productive Performance of Three Solar PV Technologies Installed at UQ Gatton Campus (PDF) 3 MB

Abstract
Economic assessment of the viability of different types of solar PV tracking technologies centres on assessment of whether the annual production of the different tracking technologies is increased enough relative to a benchmark Fixed Tilt system to compensate for the higher installation and operational costs incurred by the tracking systems. To investigate this issue, we use the PVsyst software to simulate electricity production from three representative solar PV systems installed at Gatton. In these simulations we use hourly solar irradiance, weather and surface albedo data, technical data relating to both module and inverter characteristics and impacts associated with module soiling and shading. A key finding was that over the period 2007 to 2015, average increases in simulated annual production of between 17.7 and 17.9 per cent and 36.5 and 36.7 per cent were obtained for Single-Axis and Dual-Axis tracking systems relative to the Fixed Tilt system.


Research Affiliates

The Global Change Institute collaborates with clean energy researchers across The University of Queensland.

Professor Simon Bartlett
UQ School of Information Technology and Electrical Engineering

Professor John Foster
UQ School of Economics

Mr Shane Goodwin
UQEnergy

Professor Chris Greig
UQ Energy Initiative

Dr Zhiquang Guan
UQ School of Mechanical Engineering

Professor Hal Gurgenci
UQ School of Mechanical and Mining Engineering

Professor Ben Hankamer
UQ IMB

Dr Kamel Hooman
UQ School of Mechanical Engineering

Dr Ingo Jahn
UQ School of Mechanical Engineering

Mr Adrian Mengede
UQ Properties and Facilities

Dr Andras Nagi
UQ School of Mechanical Engineering

Ms Caroline Stott
UQ Energy Initiative


PhD students
  • Mrs Shohana Deeb
  • Mr Jaroslaw Krata
  • Mr Licheng Wang
  • Mr Amit Dhoke
MPhil student
  • Mr Mehdi Hasan

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