Solar power to become portable for remote mining applications

Laing O’Rourke will undertake a study in conjunction with the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) to examine the feasibility of portable hybrid solar-diesel power plants.

ARENA CEO Ivor Frischknecht said the permanent and long-term nature of solar installations is a barrier to their use in remote, off-grid locations, especially in the mining sector, and that the study has the potential to change the renewable energy landscape in regional and remote Australia.

ARENA will provide $410,000 in funding to support the study project.

“One of ARENA’s key priorities is to drive the uptake of renewable energy in off-grid locations and a portable hybrid system… could be a real game changer for off-grid locations in Australia and beyond,” Frischknecht said.

“A system, constructed off-site, that is stackable, storable and quick to set up and break down carries numerous benefits for regional and remote communities and industries.

“It offers a cheaper, more cost effective energy source as well as the ability to unshackle off-grid locations from a sole reliance on trucked-in diesel which is costly, dangerous and subject to variable weather conditions.”

Laing O’Rourke clean technology leader Dr Will Rayward-Smith said their Select Plant Hire subsidiary manages hundreds of diesel generators across Australia, which could be augmented by new solar generation technology.

“As specialists in major remote and regional projects, we have an opportunity to harness vast amounts of solar energy at these sites,” he said.

Laing O’Rourke managing director Cathal O’Rourke said they will use their Design for Manufacture and Assembly approach to innovate a solution to reduce operating costs and provide a clean energy alternative.

“Construction and engineering must break away from traditional resources if it is to evolve and deliver projects quickly, safely and more sustainably,” he said.

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