This Week In Solar – Ending 26th of July


There are some exciting things happening in solar this week, particularly for universities apparently, so here’s our little breakdown.

University of Queensland Does a World First
The University of Queensland opened a 64-megawatt solar farm at Warwick to offset 100% of its electricity used. UQ will actually generate more energy than it uses and is the first major university in the world to offset all of its energy used. Combine this 64mW farm with its 1.1mW Tesla battery and the university is seriously flexing how doable transitioning to renewables is.

new normal

The university took out a $125 million loan from the state government and instead of paying their electricity for the next 10 years, they’ll be paying their loan back.

Monash University is Doing a Deep Dive
Monash got a little funding (just $1.3 million) to investigate ways to manage unstable and weak parts of our slow-to-adapt electricity grid. They will use the West-Murray region of the Victorian network as a case study as this region has some interesting stability challenges.

It’s being backed by the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA), ABB, the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) and AusNet Services. The goal of the study is to provide solutions to other renewable energy zones in Australia and to help increase the value delivered by renewable energy whilst reducing or removing barriers to transitioning to renewables. Hopefully, Monash can find some magical solutions to fixing the weaker parts of the grid before any issues intensify.

La Trobe University Does a Solar Too
La Trobe last year committed to a goal of ‘net zero’ emissions by 2029 with a $75 million initiative. They have since proved that they are sticking to that commitment after 7,500 solar panels were energized on 25 buildings at their Bundoora campus in Melbourne.

This is a huge leap towards their goal and the 2.5mW system will provide up to 50% of the campus’ daytime power usage, which is huge! La Trobe is a state-wide university, meaning consolidating energy and emissions is a very difficult task. They are also investigating whether they can install solar farms on their property too.

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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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