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University of Queensland tapped as lead researcher on massive solar project

9th Aug 2013

Spirits have been high in the solar power community throughout Australia since the government announced that it had given the go-ahead on a solar project that will create the biggest generation facility in the Southern Hemisphere.

Although celebrations have been occurring around the country, the University of Queensland may be cheering the loudest, as it was recently named the Lead Research Organisation for the multimillion dollar construction project.

Paul Meredith, a professor at UQ's Global Change Institute, stated that he and others are eager to be a part of such a historic project.

"It is an exciting day for renewable energy in this country," he said.

"This project will create Australia's largest solar power plant and indeed the southern hemisphere's, and the nation's, first to be built at the utility scale."

Mr Meredith also applauded the work of the Australian Renewable Energy Agency, (ARENA) which invested huge amounts in the project and ensured the financials could be worked out between the government and utility AGL Energy.

Nationwide cooperation

UQ won't be alone in performing research on the solar power system. The school said it will also join forces with the University of New South Wales through the Education Investment Fund Research Infrastructure Program grant worth $40.7 million.

The grant will allow the two schools to work with AGL and installation company First Solar and make sure that all technologies being used in the project can meld successfully.

"Components of our research will focus on energy storage, plant optimisation, power systems and the impact of renewable energy on the National Electricity Market," Meredith added.

"Our work will help build national capacity for research in solar power deployment, and will have global significance."

It's no wonder UQ was chosen as the head researcher on the project. The school has already garnered a strong reputation in the renewable energy community for the rooftop solar array it installed on a building at its Brisbane campus.

The 1.22 MW solar panel system was first constructed in 2011, and to this day is the largest rooftop solar system in the country.

First Solar will take on several important tasks, including designing and building the actual structures, which will be made up of several CdTe PV modules.

First Solar will also perform engineering, procurement and construction duties for the entire project.

Posted by Mike Peacock

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