- Lead Organisation
The Australian National University (ANU)Location
Canberra, Australian Capital TerritoryARENA Program
2 December 2022
15 September 2026
- Project PartnersRoyal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT), FMG Procurement Services, Visy Industries Australia, Graphite Energy
The Low-Cost Integration of On-Site Solar PV for Large-Scale Industrial Heat Supply project will identify and develop a method to reduce the balance-of-system (BOS) costs of solar photovoltaic (PV) energy as applied to industrial heating at more than 150°C, which is responsible for approximately 11.3 per cent of Australian emissions.
The Low-Cost Integration of On-Site Solar PV for Large-Scale Industrial Heat Supply project is funded under the ULCS PV Research and Development Round and will build on ARENA’s previous investment into solar PV that support projects aligning with ARENA’s ‘Solar 30 30 30’ target to improve module efficiency to 30 per cent and reduce total construction costs of utility scale solar farms to 30 cents per watt by 2030. Funding will focus on commercialisation prospects, which will take place after an initial R&D phase, to assist getting the new technologies into the market.
BOS costs of a solar PV system comprise the non-module costs of supplying energy to a load. Major savings in BOS costs can be realised by re-thinking the way on-site PV is integrated for process heat supply. Power electronics for PV maximum-power-point tracking (MPPT) and heating control can be simplified when the stringent AC-waveform requirements for grid-connection are avoided.
The project will accelerate the uptake of large-scale PV in the industrial heating context through the development of direct electrical heating (DEH) components and simplified power electronics that enable cost reduction through reduced system complexity.
The proposed technology is based on DEH, where DC current from a PV system is passed directly through a resistive device, without a conventional inverter. The energy source is ‘behind-the-meter’ solar PV located on the rooftop or close (within several kilometres) to the industrial facility.
The proposed DEH technology avoids the need for multi-stage converters, transformers, and transmission lines, leading to major savings in the power electronics downstream of the solar PV.
The project will achieve the following outcomes:
- Increased skills, capacity and knowledge relevant to renewable energy technologies through the dissemination of key research findings to the photovoltaic research community, industry and the public including a nation-wide evaluation of industry opportunities across multiple sectors via GIS mapping;
- Improvement in the technology readiness and commercial readiness of solar PV in the context of industrial decarbonisation through the development of a fully integrated experimental demonstration of the proposed PV-driven process heat electrification technology, and progression towards commercialisation via two industrial scale scoping studies in iron ore processing, pulp, and paper drying; and
- Acceleration of cost reductions for utility scale solar PV towards $15 per MWh, where in the case of this project, the energy is in the form of industrial heat.
This project will deliver skills and capacity building, supporting several early career researchers in the solar energy field, and providing three PhD scholarships. Knowledge generated during the project will be shared with industry through meetings, trade shows and industry magazines; with the research community through conferences and publications; and with the broader community through ARENA knowledge sharing activities; and media.