Sydney To Have World’s First Fully Solar Powered University


There’s been praise for the university of New South Wales’ (UNSW) announcement to generate 100% of its electricity from renewable sources.

After four years of campaigning by staff and students, the university is set to be the first university in the world to fully divest from fossil fuels, and meet all of its energy needs using renewable power.

Achieving Carbon Neutral Status

A tripartite agreement was signed in mid-December by UNSW, Chinese renewable energy developer Maoneng Australia and electricity retailer Origin Energy. In itself an agreement between a private sector client, a retailer and developer is unprecedented and the first of its kind in Australia.

The solar supply agreement will run for 15 years starting from the beginning of 2019, and allows the annual purchase of 124,000 megawatt hours from Maoneng’s Sunraysia Solar farm in South Western New South Wales.

The solar farm is due to begin construction later this year with energy generation expected to start in latter half of 2019.

UNSW Ian Jacobs

Positive Responses To Solar Energy

Climate activists are not the only ones to welcome the move by UNSW. New South Wales’ minister for energy, Don Harwin, also gave it the thumbs up saying it was great for the environment and would bring jobs and investment to the region.

Students studying at Balranald Central School close to the solar farm will benefit too with an annual $10,000 scholarship included in the agreement to attend UNSW.

Ian Jacobs, the president and vice-chancellor of UNSW said the university’s push to become carbon neutral was a “landmark initiative” and reflected UNSW’s commitment to “making a positive global impact”. He added that the carbon emission-free electricity supplies were at a cost that were economically and environmentally attractive.

Other universities in Australia are set to follow in UNSW’s footsteps, including Monash University in Melbourne aiming to become carbon neutral by 2030.


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Understanding Batteries

Off-Grid Systems

For some households a battery system can be of great benefit and minimise a home’s reliance on the grid. However, it’s important to understand for a battery to be useful your solar system needs to be generating excess energy for the battery to store, which you can then use at night or when the sun is not out.

When selecting a battery, you’ll want to invest in a system that is most suited to your home and can drive the best return on investment (ROI). Despite a larger upfront cost, a higher quality battery may significantly increase your ROI.

    Battery systems start from $6,000 and costs can vary greatly based on the following factors:

  1. Cycle Life-Time

    The number of times a battery can fully charge and discharge.

  2. Battery Power (kW)

    How fast it can be charged or discharged.

  3. Storage Capacity (kWh)

    The maximum amount of energy a battery system can store.

  4. Battery Management System (BMS)

    An electronic ‘smart’ system that gathers data and manages the battery ensuring it does not overload or operate outside of its safe functioning zone..

  5. Inverter

    Battery systems require their own inverter if your solar system does not have a hybrid inverter.

  6. 'All-In-One Unit’

    A system which includes the battery, BMS and an inverter all in one unit.

  7. Warranty

    Length of time or cycles the battery system is under guarantee.

  8. Blackout Protection/Backup

    It’s important to note this is not a common feature of a battery system and could cost thousands of dollars to include. Blackout protection not only requires additional components but also a specialised installation and rewiring. For grid-connected homes, the cost for blackout protection can outweigh the benefit.

Additionally, if your purpose for adding battery is to go Off-Grid and become completely independent from the grid you will need to ensure your solar system can generate enough energy to power your home and your battery system is large enough to store this energy. For homes in metro areas going Off-grid is not cost effective and is only recommended for those in remote areas with limited access to the grid. Off-grid solar systems with battery start at approximately $30,000.

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