Laing O’Rourke’s fully redeployable hybrid power plant successfully trialled

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The Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) has announced that  Laing O’Rourke’s moveable solar-diesel power plant with advanced control systems has been successfully piloted.

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ARENA CEO Ivor Frischknecht said the innovative technology– which will be commercialised through the newly formed SunSHIFT Pty Ltd – could pave the way for new products and companies to enter the Australian market. He said the agency provided $410,000 support for the feasibility and design work and a further $450,000 for this latest $1.8 million demonstration project.

“ARENA initially provided funding for a feasibility study and then a pilot project, and Laing O’Rourke has now established clean energy company SunSHIFT to commercialise its moveable solar-diesel hybrid power plant. Scalability, quick set up and easy pack down presents an ideal solution for many off-grid applications where temporary power is required such as construction projects, mine sites and disaster relief. It also allows solar panels to be re-used several times for greater value,” Mr Frischknecht said.

“The system performed as expected during the six month trial period and pack-up was impressively carried out by four people in just four days. This successful demonstration project has given Laing O’Rourke the confidence to commit to further developing its technology and is a crucial step in proving the technical and commercial viability of moveable, modular renewable energy concepts more broadly.”

SunSHIFT General Manager and Laing O’Rourke Clean Tech Leader Dr Will Rayward-Smith thanked ARENA the funding, adding that that careful selection of partners greatly contributed to the success of the project.

“ARENA’s grant funding support has been crucial to the project’s success so far. ABB’s robust microgrid solutions combined with SunPower’s high-performance solar panels enabled the system to perform fault-free for the trial period,” Dr Rayward-Smith said.

“SunSHIFT provides the financial and carbon benefits of solar with the speed of deployment, flexibility and modularity of a conventional diesel or gas generator. This is music to the ears of off-grid electricity consumers. Further, due to the flexibility and mobility of the technology, we can provide systems on offtake agreements as short as five years with rollover or buy-out options or through upfront purchase with buy-back options.”

He said the market reacted “very positively” to the project.

“We are fielding enquiries for multi-megawatt SunSHIFT systems from domestic mining sites and remote communities, and overseas from emerging economies,” Mr Rayward-Smith added.

“It is exciting to be providing solar in a format that meets the needs of the off-grid market. We are giving solar a residual value profile, avoiding stranded asset risk and decoupling asset life from end-user life.”

Laing O’Rourke is a global construction company dedicated to engineering excellence. The company has been present in Australia for more than 50 years, delivering building construction, railway services, materials handling, marine and civil infrastructure and a range of support services to clients in the oil and gas, resources, transport, defence, health, commercial and industrial sectors.