The Re-Deployable Hybrid Power (Sunshift) project involved a pilot-scale deployment of a fully re-deployable hybrid solar/diesel power plant that has the potential to change the renewable energy landscape in regional and remote Australia. Laing O’Rourke successfully operate and removed this demonstration plant in March 2015.
Many remote Australian communities rely on diesel generators that are expensive to run and are subject to energy uncertainty due to the volatility of fuel prices. Having to transport the fuels long distances is also costly, dangerous and subject to variable weather conditions. Where energy is needed, on short-term arrangements (5-10 years), to power remote mine sites there is no easily deployable renewable energy system that can be installed to match this time horizon.
Mobilising solar photovoltaics in remote environments is currently complex and expensive. This is because solar farms are traditionally constructed on-site from thousands of components. There is a need for a different approach to solar farm construction, that realises the benefits of modularisation and off-site manufacture.
Laing O’Rourke is an engineering enterprise engaged in Design for Manufacture and Assembly (DfMA), digital engineering and innovation. The company developed a redeployable hybrid power plant (patent pending) to address the market’s need for cheaper off-grid electricity. Each plant consists of a DfMA solar photovoltaic farm, a containerised integration module and traditional diesel generators.
Laing O’Rourke’s expertise has designed a system with modules that integrate multiple solar panels, framing, associated wiring and inverters that is manufactured off-site, transported, and safely assembled on-site. At the end of the project, the solar farm can be easily packed up and taken to the next site for deployment.
This project involved advancing the redeployable hybrid plant through detailed design and prototyping to provide a technical solution ready for deployment in the Austraian market.
Renewable energy can reduce the reliance of regional communities and industries on expensive, trucked-in diesel.
Off-site construction and rapid pack-up and pack-down have the potential to lower costs and reduce risks associated with undertaking projects in regional and remote Australia. The permanent and long term nature of solar installations is a key barrier to their use off-grid, particularly in mining operations.
Each redeployable hybrid plant is designed to be used at multiple, successive sites. This innovation allows a wider number of locations to benefit a single plant, without any one site needing to commit to a permanent installation.