From community solar to agrivoltaics: new Aust energy projects

Trina Solar Australia

Friday, 08 March, 2024

From community solar to agrivoltaics: new Aust energy projects

While participating in the Smart Energy Expo in Sydney (6–7 March), smart PV and energy storage company Trina Solar announced its involvement in two innovative Australian energy projects.

The first is the Goulburn Community Farm in New South Wales, an initiative organised by local residents under the Goulburn Community Energy Co-operative formed by Community Energy 4 Goulburn (CE4G). Developed by Komo Energy with design and installation carried out by Smart Commercial Solar, this 1.35 MW solar farm will be the first in the world to integrate Trina Solar’s Vertex N bifacial modules, TrinaTracker Fix Origin fixed-tilt racking and TrinaStorage Elementa 2.2 MWh battery energy storage system, according to Trina Solar.

“We’re thrilled to be involved in a project which shows what community will and persistence can achieve when it comes to accessing clean energy,” said James Duckworth, National-Business Development Manager, Smart Commercial Solar. “Community Energy 4 Goulburn and Komo Energy have worked hard for years to bring cheaper, cleaner energy to Goulburn and we’re excited to deliver this significant solar and storage project for them.”

The second project is a tracker testbed located at the Hills Educational Foundation (HEF) near Brisbane. The project was initiated by Robert Saunders (now at Elecseed), who brought together a group of diverse partners responsible for the testbed’s design, technology, construction, funding and research. The project consortium includes HEF, Queensland University of Technology and construction and civil engineering firm Diona.

The testbed aims to compare the performance of a modern solar farm — which uses Trina Solar’s Vertex DEG19 bifacial modules on single-axis Vanguard 2P trackers — with the performance of an eight-year-old solar farm that uses older modules and trackers. The insights gained from this testbed will help to determine when it is economically viable to replace older solar farms with new ones.

The testbed will also explore the albedo effect (the amount of energy reflected by a surface), experimenting with materials like recycled tin cans, pale-coloured ground covers and cement sheeting to enhance light reflectivity for increased energy yield. There are additional plans to investigate the field of agrivoltaics, using, for example, white-painted offcuts of shipping containers to cultivate mycelium, a protein-rich fungus widely recognised as a valuable feedstock.

“Agrivoltaics is something Australia’s farming community is interested to explore,” said Joseph Marinov, CEO of Hills Educational Foundation. “Creating an environment conducive for crops to grow under the solar modules will help the country’s farmers to embrace renewable energy.”

The two projects reflect the evolution of Australia’s renewable energy landscape, with the nation recording a 12.5% increase in total installed solar capacity to 34.2 GW in 2023 and an increased trend towards utility-scale battery energy storage systems (BESS). According to BloombergNEF, installations will more than double to 1.9 GW of batteries commissioned in 2024, propelled by robust government support, a growing demand for grid-balancing services and dynamic shifts within the volatile power market.

Trina Solar said it was well positioned to support Australia’s evolving energy needs as a total solutions provider that can supply modules, trackers and energy storage systems. As one of the world’s top PV module producers, its cumulative shipments amounted to more than 190 GW worldwide by the end of 2023. Its tracker (TrinaTracker) and BESS (TrinaStorage) solutions build on the company’s 27 years of experience in solar technology.

“Australia is one of the world’s more mature renewable energy markets and Trina Solar is increasingly seeing customers that are looking at renewable energy solutions beyond solar,” said Edison Zhou, Trina Solar head of Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific Islands.

“As solar projects become increasingly complex, having a single procurement source helps to streamline processes, allowing for faster delivery and unified after-sales service. This approach not only reduces costs but also ensures efficiency.”

Image caption: The team involved in the Hills Educational Foundation project (L–R): Andrew Gilhooly, Head of Utility, Commercial and Industrial Solutions for Trina Solar Asia Pacific; Chris Arrington, Sustainability Manager at Diona; and Edison Zhou, head of Australia, NZ and Pacific islands at Trina Solar.

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