UQ solar array reaches milestone

Apr 07, 2011
“The concentrating photovoltaic solar tracking array is a high-visibility flagship for the overall UQ solar project.” Professor Paul Meredith

The University of Queensland's $7.75 million solar power system at St Lucia in Brisbane has reached a milestone, with installation completed on one of the project's most visible components.

A seven-metre by six-metre 8.4 kilowatt high-efficiency, concentrating photovoltaic (CPV) array that tracks the sun has been installed on Sir Fred Schonell Drive, adjacent to UQ's multi-storey carparks.

Professor Tim Flannery, head of the Australian Government's Climate Commission, will inspect UQ's CPV array today. He will be accompanied by commissioners Professor Will Steffen, Professor Lesley Hughes and Mr Gerry Hueston.

The CPV tracking array is one component of UQ's 1.22 megawatt solar generation system, which will be Australia's largest and most powerful flat-panel solar power system on completion in July.

The vast system will span four buildings at St Lucia, effectively coating the rooftops with 5000 solar panels.

After being connected to the UQ power grid, the SolFocus CPV tracking array had its first full-sun, non-cloudy day on Wednesday, March 23, allowing it to be calibrated to the sun's position and to start generating power.

The CPV array is valued at about $90,000, and has been donated by Ingenero, the Brisbane firm that won the contract to install the overall 1.22 megawatt PV solar array across four rooftops at St Lucia.

The CPV tracking panel is made up of 28 parabolic focussing, photovoltaic modules, each with 20 individual reflectors and a high-efficiency triple-junction semiconductor solar cell.

It is motor-driven on a dual axis to keep it closely aligned with the sun so optimum solar harvesting is ensured.

UQ's is one of only 31 CPV tracking panels in Australia; the other 30 are at the Alice Springs Airport.

Professor Paul Meredith, of UQ's School of Mathematics and Physics and Global Change Institute, said the January floods had set back the schedule of the solar project, so it had been “very gratifying” to see the CPV array begin generating power in the past week.

“We have been busily installing the major parts of the around the St Lucia campus since last October, but much of that activity has been out of sight, because it is on rooftops,” he said.

“The CPV solar tracking array is a high-visibility flagship for the overall UQ solar project.”

UQ Property & Facilities and the interdisciplinary UQ Renewable Energy Technology Advisory Committee is coordinating the solar project, supported by industry partners Ingenero, RedFlow, Energex and Trina Solar.

The 1.22MW system will position UQ as a leader in solar power research, working closely with industry in a key renewable energy growth area.

In another step forward for the UQ , RedFlow's zinc-bromine battery modules arrived on site at St Lucia this week.

Explore further: Solar energy prices see double-digit declines in 2013, trend expected to continue

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Quantum_Conundrum
1 / 5 (3) Apr 07, 2011
I doubt this is even worth it. I don't know what electricity costs are in Australia, but assuming it's 11cents per kilowatt-hour, I figure it will take 24 years for this unit to pay for itself vs grid power...not counting maintenance and repairs...because it doesn't make power at night.

Even if it was 15 cents per kilowatt-hour, it would take like 20 years for this unit to pay for itself, not counting maintenance and repairs, which is barely less time than the 25 years typical solar installs are warranted.

For $90,000, you can buy 30kw worth of plain old PV panels, which at the same price for electricity, will pay for themselves in around 6.5 years.
Quantum_Conundrum
1 / 5 (3) Apr 07, 2011
If you are going to use mirrors and lenses anyway, it ends up being much cheaper and much more efficient to go ahead and use solar boilers and steam generators, instead of PV cells.

I've seen on youtube a guy who made his own 10Kw solar boiler generator from scratch, and it was much smaller than 7m x 6m that this array is.

A one-stage solar boiler with a 6m x 7m array can get 42kw of heat, and by the time that goes through a steam engine, you can get 13.8kw to 17.2kw.

So the guy who spent his own money and made a solar boiler and collector array from scrap did MUCH better for MUCH cheaper than the professional solar developers.

A two stage boiler-generator system could get around 25kw from a 6m x 7m collector...

University of Queensland is getting SCREWED on this deal, and are paying around ten times too much for what they are getting...
farja
5 / 5 (1) Apr 08, 2011
Sounds like you are entirely ignorant of the economic and political environment in Australia. I take it you live in the US?
The price of electricity in Brisbane is 22-23 cents per kwh and set to rise substantially if the carbon tax is legislation is passed. Futhermore, increasing capital outlays by power companies replacing old infrastructure and bird brained solar incentive plans colliding between the state and federal governments have been responsible for large increases in recent times as well as into the future medium term.
What some fool can make out of junk on youtube bares no correlation what so ever with commercial reality. If you actually read about real economic issues faced by countries around the world rather than sitting on physorg 24/7 you'd know that manufacturing in Australia is expensive without having to deal with the the increased cost of skilled labor due to a mining boom, and in Brisbane particularly, the $6 billion flood recovery too.
PaulieMac
not rated yet Apr 08, 2011
Well, for a start, QC - the CPV array was donated, so it would be 'paying for itself' on day one...

However, the solar installation at UQ is not there purely to meet the energy needs of the campus; it is actually a component of the universitys research into energy storage... More here:
www.uq.edu.au/new...le=22083