Queensland's Largest Solar Panel Array Announced
Queensland University will soon be home to the largest solar power system in the state.
Announced last week, the 3.275 megawatt pilot plant will incorporate more than 34,000 ground mounted solar panels. The solar farm will be constructed on a 12.6 hectare former airstrip site at the University's Gatton campus, which is situated 90km west of Brisbane.
Doubling as a research facility, the Gatton plant will augment the University's existing St Lucia campus 1.22 megawatt photovoltaic array; which is currently Australia's largest rooftop solar installation.
The Gatton plant is the pilot for two huge solar farms to be constructed in western New South Wales - one at Nyngan (102MW) and another at Broken Hill (53MW).
In August, the University of Queensland was confirmed as Lead Research Organisation on the $450 million solar farms project under the Federal Government's former Solar Flagships Program. The initiative will see Australia and the southern hemisphere's first utility-scale solar farms constructed.
"Locally, the Gatton installation – like the St Lucia solar project – will yield clear benefits for campus energy supply, and for UQ research, teaching and community engagement," says UQ President and Vice-Chancellor Professor Høj.
Professor Paul Meredith, project director from UQ's Global Change Institute and the School of Maths and Physics, says the research aspect will focus on energy storage, plant optimisation, power systems and the impact of renewable energy on the National Electricity Market.
A $40.7 million grant from the Federal Government's Education Investment Fund is funding the Gatton installation; which is expected to be generating clean electricity some time next year. Construction of the larger plants in Nyngan and Broken Hill is expected to start in in January 2014, for completion late in 2015.
Queensland is the first state to achieve 1GW of solar capacity; driven not by large installations, but home solar power systems.