More Funding For Australian Movable Solar Farm

Sunshift - Movable Solar Farm

SunSHIFT movable solar farm – Image: ARENA

The Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) will reportedly today announce it has committed a further $2.1 million to support the commercialisation of a 1 megawatt relocatable solar farm being developed by SunSHIFT.

This isn’t a no-strings-attached handout – the Australian Financial Review says the money will be repaid with royalties from future profits, assuming SunSHIFT becomes profitable.

Many isolated communities throughout Australia relying on expensive and polluting diesel generation are turning to renewables, as are mining companies looking to reduce the cost and impact of generating electricity at operations in off-grid areas.

While solar power systems can be very rapidly rolled out these days, sometimes projects only call for a few years of power generation capabilities.

SunSHIFT is a modular and moveable solar farm solution designed for large-scale on-grid and off-grid electricity generation applications. It can operate in a stand-alone arrangement or be integrated with diesel generators and energy storage.

The system utilises SunPower solar panels integrated into prefabricated container-sized frames that can be easily clicked together.

“SunSHIFT’s pre-engineered and pre-fabricated container-sized modules minimise the risk, time, and site resources required to deploy a solar farm,” states the company, a subsidiary of global engineering and construction firm Laing O’Rourke.

“Unlike traditional solar farms, SunSHIFT systems can be easily moved, allowing future expansion, rearrangement, or removal.”

A successful pilot scale deployment of the system occurred in 2014/15 with the assistance of $450,000 in funding from ARENA, which also provided $410,000 support for the feasibility and design work.

Setup of the pilot solar-diesel plant, which incorporated advanced control systems, took a week. Pack-up of the system took four people just four days.

SunSHIFT signed a Memorandum of Understanding with SunPower late last year (PDF) to develop and deliver off-grid solar opportunities in Australasia, Melanesia, Polynesia and Micronesia.

Apparently the company has been fielding multi-megawatt system enquiries locally from domestic mining operations and remote communities, and also from developing nations.

The company says it will be providing its systems with or without assembly and various other services as an outright purchase, or under lease or power purchase agreement (PPA) options.

About Michael Bloch

Michael caught the solar power bug after purchasing components to cobble together a small off-grid PV system in 2008. He's been reporting on Australian and international solar energy news ever since.

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