Aussie ‘pop-up’ solar could bring back power when global disasters hit
Main Image: The pop-up solar units are self-contained within a shipping container.
An Australian ‘pop-up solar’ generator that can be transported in a shipping container and is designed to provide instant power for defence forces in the field is being touted as a solution for disaster relief.
Canberra-based ECLIPS Engineering has developed an Australian-made mobile solar energy system which can provide instant power from a shipping container, and can be easily transported.
The ‘pop-up’ system is able to provide significantly more power than many existing mobile solar generation arrays, it is more easily installed and transported, and can be set up within minutes as a standalone system or joined to an existing network.
Known as the Container Roll Out Solar Systems, or CROSS, the solar generators are able to provide between 2.2 kilowatts and 4.3 kilowatts of power and can be combined with several other units to provide even more electricity.
They can be transported in either a 20- or 40-foot shipping container.
The Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) has thrown its support behind the project, providing $290,000 in funding.
“The project opens up markets not previously available to the renewables industry, including defence, disaster recovery, humanitarian, construction and temporary network support,” ARENA said.
While the original focus in developing CROSS was solely on providing electricity for Australian defence forces in the field, ECLIPS managing director Shaun Moore said the company soon realised it could be used in myriad conditions.
“One of our early objectives was to provide rapidly deployable utility-scale photovoltaic generators to improve the self-sufficiency of Defence’s deployed forward operating bases,” Mr Moore said.
He said the solar system was built in response to the high levels of diesel fuel usage in the Defence industry; diesel to generate electricity accounts for up to 70 per cent of a deployed forces’ fuel usage and a significant cost driver and logistical hurdle.
“More importantly, deploying CROSS to forward operating bases also reduces the frequency of convoys for fuel resupply, which reduces the threat to soldiers in contested environments,” Mr Moore said.
“These same logistics efficiencies and benefits are transferable to commercial and utility customers in remote areas of Australia.”
ARENA said the solar units could be a potential replacement for diesel generators and used for disaster relief, music festivals or to provide temporary electricity if a power line is knocked down.
“CROSS units can be deployed in off-grid and fringe-of-grid areas, displace or offset diesel consumption and improve the security of existing networks,” ARENA chief executive Ivor Frischknecht said.
“These renewable options can reduce some of the barriers to entry for potential renewable power users in remote locations, including short project durations and where power systems need to be periodically relocated.
“Renewable can provide an emissions-free, silent energy system that could replace diesel generations in the long run.”
Solar power has been growing rapidly in scale, and last year grew faster than any other source of energy, the International Energy Agency said.
“What we are witnessing is the birth of a new era in solar PV,” Fatih Birol, executive director of the IEA, said
“We expect that solar PV capacity growth will be higher than any other renewable technology through 2022.”
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