Australian Conservation Foundation walks the walk with solar

Monday, 26 January, 2015

The Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF) works to secure a sustainable and lasting environment, dedicated to transforming Australia’s energy production into clean energy sources. In its latest effort to prove just how easy it is for commercial and corporate buildings to go green, ACF set up shop in what is now a premier green commercial building - 60L.

Even before the construction of 60L, environmental design, energy and resource use were the critical focus of the building design. Measures were taken to minimise the consumption of materials used and maximise their re-use, as well as minimise the consumption of mains water and maximise recycling of treated wastewater.

When it was time to add solar, Going Solar used its 36 years in the solar industry to choose the best solution for the job. The company’s project manager, Graham Sutherland, explained, “ACF wanted premium solar components to ensure the best long-term sustainability outcomes as well as a system that would allow for full reporting on electricity generation and ecological offset.”

Going Solar recommended Enphase microinverters because, unlike string inverters, they could decouple the panels from each other so that any shade from structural elements does not impact the entire system’s production capability.

“By using Enphase microinverters, we were able to maximise annual production, alleviate shade effects and provide access to system monitoring and production data,” said Sutherland.

With Enphase, all cabling from the roof and inside the building is standard 230 VAC, ensuring occupant and office safety.

Despite 60L’s limited rooftop space, Going Solar was able to design the system that would reach maximum production potential by mounting the system north-facing, with modules both flat to the roof and on a 10° tilt. Enphase technology maximises annual energy harvesting capability at this low inclination, while at the same time ensuring best daily performance despite early morning and late afternoon shade effects.

But having solar on the roof wasn’t enough: ACF wanted to see the results as they happened. The foundation requested a high level of operational transparency for the system to enable granular, module-level monitoring capability in real time.

Enphase’s cloud-based Enlighten software allows both the installer and building manager to keep a close eye on system performance and provides remote system diagnostic tools for any cleaning and long-term maintenance requirements. The system’s reliability is reinforced through Enlighten’s automatic alerts, which tell the installer and owner that the system is operating as designed and safeguard against any unexpected downtime or loss in energy production.

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